The Grape Riots and the UK Living Wage Week


While this month’s grape riots have seen some of the most traumatic events in the 353 year long history of making wine at the southernmost tip, one thing is clear: Bacchus has a sense of humour.

The Eastern Cape branch of the ANC calls for a wine boycott and the share price of Distell, largest wine producer in SA, reaches new heights on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange – R102 today on large volumes.

lw The Grape Riots and the UK Living Wage Week

November is moustache month. Was it mo’ envy that saw WIETA board representatives Women on Farms and Sikhula Sonke, a women-led trade union, in the vanguard of the strikes?

Meanwhile, there is a curious coincidence, synchronicity if you like, with social events in the UK. The first signs of trouble emerged in the Hex River Valley in the week of 7th November.

In the UK, 4-10 November was the week of the first ever UK wide celebration of the Living Wage & Living Wage Employers. Coincidence? Unlikely, especially if you take note that WIETA, the troubled Wine Industry Ethical Trading Association that some accuse of fomenting the protests, was founded in 2002 with funds from the UK.

As the WIETA website notes “WOSA was instrumental in arranging the initial funding for the establishment of WIETA from the WOSA UK Importers Committee CCT Fund.” So were the conspiracy theorists right all along? Were the riots organized by shadowy outsiders linked to the UK Living Wage Foundation?