One of the crucial cornerstones of a socially responsible business is to raise awareness among both management and employees on socially responsible practices and to enhance these practices on a day-to-day basis. SIZA recognises the importance of providing good quality capacity building initiatives as a foundation to all individuals, stakeholders, and role players within a business to sustain continuous development and drive improvement whilst strengthening relationships between management and the workforce. Over the past several years, SIZA has been rolling out a variety of capacity building programmes, training courses, and toolkits to not only sustain continuous development, but also to equip management with the necessary skills and resources to implement standards and requirements and enable employees within a business to have their own voice.
Giving the Employee a Voice
As part of the SIZA programme, members receive access to informational posters, videos, and materials related to the SIZA Social and Environmental standards at no additional cost. This enables businesses to create awareness within their workforce by displaying these materials within the workplace. As part of the SIZA Social Standard requirements, all employees within a business must be made aware of what the SIZA programme entails and what the standard code requirements are, and they should be able to understand what options they have to contact SIZA or another relevant party, should there be any code violation.
Employees can contact SIZA on a toll-free number which is displayed on the various posters and the website, and is communicated via several communication forums. It is very important to allow agri-workers to have a voice on various platforms and therefore SIZA’s complaints procedure allows for an objective and independent process to be followed in any event where agri-workers lodge a complaint or query to the SIZA office. When a complaint or query is received, SIZA will determine whether it forms part of the SIZA code requirements and programme conditions. If the query falls outside the scope or mandate of SIZA, it is referred to an appropriate relevant authority or governmental department for intervention. This includes the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL), and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. (DALRRD).
When a complaint falls within SIZA’s scope, an independent investigation is launched to establish the nature of the complaint and to outline any remediation steps that can be taken to rectify the complaint via the best possible solution.
It should be noted that all complaints are dealt with regardless of whether they fall within or outside the SIZA scope or mandate.
User-Friendly Video Material
To aid in the awareness-raising and sharing of information amongst agri-workers, SIZA has created and distributed a series of videos that are specifically aimed at the workforce, detailing what the requirements are that need to be in place and highlighting what workers’ rights are. These videos were adjusted in 2020 to make the information even more accessible. The videos are now available in animation format, in both high- and low resolution where they can be distributed to members and employees via cell phone. This initiative proved to be very valuable as its accessibility and user-friendly content was received with great excitement. The videos are available in three of South Africa’s prevalent languages and can be freely accessed from the SIZA website.
When Grievances Become Best Practice
As a further measure to drive continuous and sustainable development within SIZA members’ businesses, SIZA, together with expert partners, recently developed a training course on how grievances can be utilised more effectively. This was aimed at restoring trust and building an effective mechanism for dialogue and engagement amongst all members of the business. The training programme: When Grievances Become Best Practice, is a course that not only strengthens relationships between agri-workers and employers, but it provides resources to everyone in the business, from management, to supervisors, to agri-workers on how an effective grievance mechanism works, and what benefits are included in using this mechanism effectively. The training is offered onsite and is tailor-made to fit each and every business need in terms of time, interviews, group discussions, and interactive engagements. The training is done by social workers who specialise within the agricultural industry making this training industry-specific and applicable to everyday scenarios on a farm and in a packhouse.
The importance of having adequate resources to deal with challenges, SIZA has engaged with various experts and role-players to initiate and develop training material, support documents, and best practice guidelines to aid in the business’ drive towards improving their overall social responsibilities and environmental stewardship. Some of these additional resources, along with the ones mentioned above include:
- Farm and packhouse visits to monitor practices between audit periods and to ensure corrective actions are implemented sustainably.
- The world-class SIZA CARES programme which actively promotes and drives environmental sustainability, compliance to minimum legislation, and best practice guidelines. Video material is also available which is aimed at showcasing how caring for the environment benefits everyone working and living on farms.
- Social and Environmental producer compliance training is offered in webinar format and is aimed at providing sufficient information to allow businesses to understand what the code requirements are and why it is important to implement these practices continuously.
- Guidance on Environmental Legislation training is another recently developed course that is also available in webinar format, and which gives businesses a greater insight and practical understanding on how to interpret legislation when it comes to environmental sustainability, as well as how to implement the requirements more effectively.
- Understanding Audit Findings training is offered to businesses in webinar format to create an even better foundation for managing risk within the business, understanding the root cause behind non-compliances, and implementing appropriate risk assessments to mitigate these factors.
- Over the past few years, SIZA has liaised with global programmes such as the Stronger Together programme in the United Kingdom to roll out more than 80 workshops across South Africa to create even further awareness amongst businesses on the practices and risks of modern slavery, forced, bonded, and indentured labour.
- Auditor competency training is required on an annual basis to ensure SIZA-approved third-party auditors are competent in assessing and evaluating the SIZA programme requirements, legislative interpretations, and remain consistent and thorough in raising non-compliances in an attempt to mitigate risk and drive continuous improvement.
- Monthly newsletters are distributed which contain information on the programme, standard requirements, and support programmes. These newsletters are individually aimed at the global market, producers, and on legislative and standard requirements.
- SIZA also offers a website library with templates, guidance documents, and support material which are made free to anyone who would like to use them. This guidance includes examples of employment contracts, health and safety management in agriculture, best practice guidelines on accommodation in agriculture, transport requirements, induction videos, and so much more.
It has and will always remain a priority for the SIZA programme to engage with relevant stakeholders and role-players to not only create support programmes, but to establish an awareness among businesses within the industry of the importance of continuously improving their businesses. For this reason, SIZA has been engaging with relevant partners in ensuring a more cost-effective option is provided to businesses to attain these support measures and have access to it online from their office or home at no additional cost.
SIZA has been working very closely especially with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture over the past several years to attain funding for the roll out of various capacity building initiatives. SIZA is actively building relationships within the industry with commodity organisations, independent partners, and experts where awareness-raising efforts and new initiatives are on the forefront of continuous development on a national basis.
SIZA also provides a smallholder support programme where it invests in a compliance programme over a three-year period to ensure that smallholders can become market ready. In the words of the inspirational figure B.B. King: “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you”. SIZA will continue in its efforts toward driving more awareness, training, capacity building, and knowledge within the industry to further social and environmental sustainability alike.
For more information on any of the capacity buildings programmes offered, please contact the SIZA office at +27 21 852 8184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.