In 2008 the South African fruit industry took a decision to respond to the need to provide retailers and their consumers with assurances of fair labour practices in their supply base, by supporting the development of a single South African based ethical standard and programme that would meet all retailer requirements. Such a programme would aim to harmonise all ethical code requirements in order to assist growers with ethical labour practice compliance whilst minimizing costs.
Fruit South Africa engaged with the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) which has developed an internationally recognized set of Reference tools, including a reference code and audit process and methodology reference tool that can be used as the basis for the development of a single code and methodology to meet all requirements. The process involved the adoption of the GSCP Reference Code and the GSCP Audit Process and Methodology, the alignment of the Code with South African law, a self-assessment of both documents against the GSCP Reference tools, and their submission to undergo a process of equivalence validated by an independent panel of experts.
The documents have been through the GSCP equivalence process which means they have been reviewed by an independent international expert panel to assess their equivalence with the GSCP requirements. This process was completed in August 2012 and results of the review can be viewed under the ‘Share and Compare’ facility on the GSCP website for GSCP members.
The ethical trade programme has now been formalized as the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA), a not-for-profit membership based organization which will be the custodian of an ethical and environmental standard and who will oversee the ethical trade and environmental initiatives. SIZA is open to producers, exporters, importers, retailers and other stakeholders across the supply chain. Membership fees are used to sustain SIZA, and support ongoing improvement of working conditions on farms through identifying needs and building local capacity to respond with appropriate interventions. SIZA focuses on development and building capacity and uses the audit as an indicator of need and continuous improvement. SIZA aims to provide growers with the tools to be self-regulated.
SIZA oversee the rollout of the ethical and environmental programme throughout all provinces and all agricultural sectors in South Africa and it ensure effective communication to the industry and stakeholders. SIZA is proud of the data platform that is being developed and once again will be a leader in the field where a sustainable ethical trade and environmental programme have their own data platform, providing services throughout the full cycle from registrations of members for feedback and visibility to suppliers.
The SIZA improvement process has been designed to ensure Ethical Trade and Environmental compliance from all suppliers in South-Africa. The goal is to have a commitment of continues improvement of labour and environmental conditions on all farms in a practical and comprehensive manner which has the potential to benefit businesses and impact positively on hundreds of thousands of employees.
The industry has developed a number of resources linked to ethical and environmental compliance to support its members. All the completed resources are available in the Document Library section of the website for members to use.