Sunday, August 28, 2005


UK supermarket firm Tesco is making record profits.

ActionAid has investigated the conditions of women working on Tesco-accredited farms in the Western Cape of South Africa.

The research revealed that the women:

1. Receive poverty wages

"I get 378 Rand [£32.50] pay every two weeks. I can’t afford school fees for my daughter or go to school functions or buy school uniforms," says Tawana Fraser, who works as a ‘permanent casual’ labourer on a pear farm that supplies Tesco. The minimum wage in South Africa for two weeks work should be 419 Rand [£36], however, poverty wages are widespread.

2. Are exposed to pesticides

"They spray pesticides while the women are working in the orchards. We have no gloves or protective clothing and we have to climb wet ladders and pick pears from the trees while they’re still wet from pesticides," says Tawana Fraser. She says that spraying normally happens twice a week and that nobody on the farm wears protective clothing.

3. Live in dismal housing

"I sleep on the floor on a plastic sheet…there’s no water or electricity and the walls of my shack are made of cardboard," says Gloria Nzama, who finds work intermittently on Tesco-accredited farms. The trend towards more casual employment, in part a result of supermarket buying practices, is seeing thousands of casual workers living in dismal housing conditions in compounds, shanty towns and informal settlements.


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