Bill 'will make farmers wary of hiring'
Johannesburg - Proposed changes to the laws on security of land tenure and the eviction of farm workers will not make farmers more willing to employ workers, Agri SA president Johannes Möller warned in a report on Tuesday.
Agriculture could increase employment in line with the government’s new economic growth strategy - but this had been inhibited by the Extension of Security of Tenure Act of 1997 and the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act of 1996, he said.
The government had conceded that these laws swung the balance too far in favour of labour by making evictions difficult, and resulted in farmers being reluctant to employ people who could then claim security of tenure, Business Day reported.
But Möller did not believe the new, recently released draft Land Tenure Security Bill - which will replace the two existing laws - would alleviate the situation, although it did contain some improvements.
Evictions would still be difficult, time-consuming and costly as they would have to happen in line with procedures involving a court order and periods of notice, even when the eviction was justified.
He said that under the new bill "farmers will be very wary of hiring new employees" and would always take into account the economic and policy implications of hiring new labourers.
"We believe government should rather be taking the view of promoting job opportunities, especially in agriculture, which has the capacity to employ more people and has proven this by doing so over the last two years."
The bill proposed that the right to stay on a farm would be tied to legitimate employment under the Labour Relations Act. A worker who was then fairly dismissed would lose the right to live on the farm.