Many wine workers in Italy are underpaid for overtime, paid so low that they cannot cover their basic needs, lack protective equipment against toxic fumes and don’t dare file complaints for fear of being fired, an Oxfam report commissioned by Systembolaget explains.
The shortage of protective gear is particularly prevalent among wine workers in Tuscany and Puglia, while many workers in Piedmont are seeing unpaid overtime. Wine workers in Sicily say they have been forced to pay someone to get the job, increasing the risk of being forced to work when the debt is paid off.
– It was said that this does not happen in Europe, but in poor countries where wine is produced. But this report shows that it is also happening in Italy. Hannah Nilsson, Oxfam’s director of policy, says: We knew of human rights abuses in Italian wine production, but didn’t know they were so serious.
Great wine maker
Italy is one of the countries from which Systembolaget buys the most wine. There are about 600 producers, farms and cooperatives in the often complex supply chains that extend from vineyards to Systembolaget stores.
– That’s too dangerous. Behind all the problems and challenges we are talking about. It is ultimately our responsibility to work more with these issues, says Hanna Helgesdotter, Director of Sustainability at Systembolaget.
Don’t stop buying
Systembolaget won’t stop buying Italian wines in light of the report’s conclusions, but plans to launch a new sustainability label after the end of the year to help consumers buy wines that have been produced in good working conditions, among other things.
We are a very big buyer with a very big impact. Helgesdotter says our starting point is to always stay put and try to solve problems rather than stop buying.
Trinidad and Tobago: How will you push for change?
– It’s about many different things. One part is making sure our agreements are sharp enough to be able to make that kind of requirement. We have the opportunity to reject producers who do not adhere to our Code of Conduct, but it is also about training at the supplier level, so that you know the risks of poor working conditions.
Facts: Italy wine country
People have been growing wine in Italy from 2500 to 3000 years ago.
The country currently produces about 15 percent of all wines consumed in the world.
It has about 2,000 varieties of grapes.
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