South African Diary: Tesco makes billions, but workers continue to suffer hardship

10 May 2009 - 12:00am

Once Wendy had briefed the journalist and photographer at the Sikhula Sonke office, we headed off to meet workers on two of the farms supplying Tesco. After a 30-minute journey we came to a large orchard of tangerine trees. Halfway to the compound that housed workers, we encountered about 100 workers sitting around a small fire, their faces covered with yellow and terracotta mud to protect them from the sun. They were supposed to be working, but could not yet start for the day. It was chilly and the sun had yet to appear, which meant that the leaves were wet and therefore could not be picked. The lack of sun was unfortunate for the workers, who won't be paid if they cannot work.

This is the reality of a seasonal worker. Their jobs aren't secure and their wages aren't guaranteed. In South Africa there are around one million farm workers, 60% of whom are seasonal workers; two thirds of all seasonal workers are women.

Graciela Romero, Director of International Programmes, is keeping a diary of her trip to South Africa, where she is visiting Sikhula Sonke, an women's trade union and War on Want partner organisation.


Latest news

"Lift the Ban" on Asylum Seekers Working

17 October 2018 - 11:45am

War on Want is a part of a coalition of organisations calling on the government to "Lift the Ban" on people seeking asylum working. 

Currently, people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working, which means they are dependent on asylum support whilst they wait for a decision on their asylum claim. People seeking asylum are given just £5.39 per day to meet all their essential living costs, including food, clothing, toiletries and transport and often the cost of their asylum application.

Read more

Indigenous Colombians threatened with death for opposition to mega-mining project as defenders visit UK

16 October 2018 - 11:00am

“Death to all these scum”: threats made by far-right paramilitaries promise to “clean” the region of indigenous Wayúu campaigning against mega-mining projects by UK-listed companies in their ancestral lands. Threats arrive just days before a week of action launches in London to highlight the issue. Delegates have arrived from the United States, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, including Wayúu community leader, Misael Socarras Ipuana.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT : The militarisation of space, cyber warfare, hacking, killer robots, drones, & alternative visions of security. The… 5 hours 48 min ago
In our new report, "The Rivers are Bleeding", War on Want exposes the devastating impact of British mining in Latin… 9 hours 3 min ago
On 4 Oct, McDonald's, Wetherspoons, TGI Fridays, Uber Eats & Deliveroo couriers made history by striking on the sam… 9 hours 18 min ago