G's Marketing to export training package to South African farms

Up to 5,000 South African wine, fruit and vegetable farm workers stand to benefit from a new training package piloted by Cambridgeshire-based fresh produce supplier and salad grower G's Marketing.

The training package on discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace is part of a Comic Relief grant awarded to the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).

ETI members including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, fresh produce supplier Flamingo Holdings and the Ethical Tea Partnership helped develop the training - signalling a further move from companies away from a sole focus on worksite auditing towards bottom-up, practical solutions for their suppliers.

The training covers the highly-sensitive issues of discrimination and sexual harassment of workers, which in turn can trigger a whole range of other breaches of workers' rights, such as unfair dismissal, excessive overtime and low wages. It focuses on changing the attitudes and behaviour of workplace supervisors.

Early pilots of the training by G's Marketing in the UK and in Kenya reveal that it is already having an impact - with supervisors reporting a new understanding of the need to control their emotions and treat people with respect.

G's Marketing Group human resources and health and safety director Beverly Dixon said: "G's worked with ETI to adjust the training programme for a UK workforce and ran the training for two suppliers and 30 delegates on our sites in December 2009.

"Since then, communications have improved between those first line managers and employees. They're now more alert to potential pitfalls and confident in dealing with any issues as they arise."

So far more than 130 supervisors have already been trained in ETI members' supplier sites, impacting on more than 3,000 workers.

Brenda Beryl Achieng, corporate affairs and compliance manager of Flamingo in Kenya, said: "Building on the substantial progress we have already made in supervisor training, we are now delighted to be training 40 trainers in Kenya to deliver the ETI course for the 2000 supervisors we employ there."

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