Dr Jason Hickel is a research fellow in LSE’s Department of Anthropology. Here he considers the plight of the workers involved in the agricultural sector of sugar farming in South Africa who do not benefit from the unionisation of the sugar milling workforce. This post originally appeared on the Africa Report.
When you pour a packet of South African-made sugar into your morning coffee, you can feel good about the fact that the workers who milled, refined, packed, and shipped it are paid relatively decent wages, enjoy basic benefits, and are protected against severe exploitation.
In many respects, South African sugar is about as “ethical” as sugar gets, given a global industry characterised by the kind of abuses recently brought to light by projects like the “Killer Coke” campaign. That’s because the South African sugar industry bears the happy distinction of being unionised wall-to-wall.