Getaway/FTTSA ‘dream travel job’ – Discovering FTTSA in South Africa

Posted by Joy Anne Goodenough on 14 February 2011

Unfair labour practices, overt and covert abuse of workers, child labour: these are grim realities that not only affect workers in far flung lands. Scratch the respectable surfaces of companies right here at home and you’ll soon discover that many people in South Africa are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to their working conditions. And it goes beyond your neighbour (because it’s never YOU right?) who pays her domestic below minimum wage.

I’ve long been a supporter of the fair trade concept since I first encountered it in the UK. Ten or so years ago it was still a foreign idea in SA but slowly, thanks to the hard work and commitment of people in various industries who strive to ensure that workers get paid what they deserve, are treated with dignity and given the opportunity to learn and use new skills, public awareness of Fair Trade in South Africa is growing.

Working in the travel and tourism sector I was very interested to learn about the work being done by the good people over at FTTSA. Rather than allowing accommodation establishments to simply advertise themselves as “˜green’ or “˜community oriented’ this body has put a stringent set of guidelines in place with which any venue wanting to be registered with the FTTSA must comply.

I love the multi-faceted approach FTTSA has. They cover all aspects of social justice and environmental awareness in their criteria. So it’s not enough for a Lodge to use solar panels and recycled toilet paper. They also need to show that their labour practices are sound and that they are invested in their staff; that they support the local community and train them up rather than import their staff. They must prove that they use and promote local produce and services wherever possible. In addition they must be able to prove that they are doing all they can to minimise their environmental impact. Just saying they comply in these regards is not enough – FTTSA wants hard evidence of everything claimed and will send assessors to speak to the staff and see first-hand what measures have been implemented by the establishment applying.

How great is that? It’s brilliant to know that there are people out there looking out for the interests of our people and our land. So apart from the fact that I’m about to whizz around the Eastern Cape and Transkei with Getaway and FTTSA, I’m super stoked that along the way I’ll be meeting some of the individuals whose lives have been touched and improved by the work of the FTTSA. I’ll be interviewing them one on one, photographing them and in some cases working right alongside them.

I can’t wait!






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