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NPA partner receives international prize for trade union rights

The South African union CSAAWU has been awarded the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights for 2017. NPA welcomes this recognition of CSAAWU's important work.

“We congratulate our partner CSAAWU on the Arthur Svensson prize. This is an important recognition of their continuous fight for the rights of South African wine workers”, said Henriette Killi Westhrin, Secretary General at Norwegian People’s Aid.

The Arthur Svensson prize is awarded each year by the Committee for the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights for the successful promotion of labour rights throughout the world. The prize amount is NOK 500,000, where 250,000 goes directly to the prize winner and an equal amount will be spent on projects related to the prize winner. The money comes from the International Solidarity Fund of Norwegian labour union Industri Energi.

The Commercial Stevedoring and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) receives the prize for their constant fight for decent working conditions for severely exploited workers, and their ability to organize a grassroots movement with very limited resources.

The full statement of the jury of the Arthur Svensson prize can be found here.

Last year, the union mobilized a 14-week strike at Robertson Winery in the Western Cape region. The strike was accompanied by boycotts and garnered international attention, helped by the Danish documentary “Bitter Grapes”, which portrayed extremely poor work and accommodation conditions on South African wineries and salaries below the minimum wage.

“When we spoke to CSAAWU after they received the news about the Arthur Svensson prize, they expressed excitement and disbelief. They have spent large efforts building relations with Scandinavian consumers and unions, because a lot of the wine produced on the farms employing the workers they represent end up on the Scandinavian market,” said Kathrine Raadim, head of the International Programme Department at NPA.

As a part of this effort, Deneco Dubé, paralegal adviser to CSAAWU, visited Norway in December 2016 and conducted meetings with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Norwegian wine importer Vinmonopolet.

The 14 week strike at Robertson Winery was settled with an increase in worker’s salaries. CSAAWU will keep negotiating to improve living and working conditions at the winery.

“We are impressed by what CSAAWU has achieved and will keep supporting them in their work. The Arthur Svensson prize is a strong symbol of international solidarity with the movement and will contribute to the strengthening of CSAAWU’s organizational abilities and efforts”, said Westhrin.

NPA and Norwegian union Fellesforbundet supports CSAAWU through The Trust for Community Outreach and Education.

24.03.2017 | Julie Offerdal