Double-edged sword for farm workers
Polokwane - The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) in Limpopo has expressed mixed feelings over the new minimum wage for farm workers which takes effect on March 1.
The labour department announced the increments in terms of Sectoral Determination for farm workers.
"We are happy... but food prizes are rapidly increasing, leaving farm workers poor," said Fawu provincial spokesperson Nelson Semenya.
He said the increase should be reviewed before 2014.
He said many families would receive temporary relief with the increase, which has gone from an hourly rate of R7.04 to R7.71; a weekly rate of R317.51 to R374.10 and monthly a minimum wage of R1 375.94 to R1 503.90 for a 45-hour ordinary work week.
Semenya praised the department for ensuring that farm workers knew their rights.
He said the department had also done well to make sure that farmers complied with regulations and that those who could not afford to pay increases applied for exemption.
"“We had joint operations with [the department] on various farms where we also raise awareness about the rights of farm workers," said Semenya.
Labour department spokesperson Page Boikanyo said the department based the wage increase on the advice of the employment conditions commission following a long consultation process and public hearings.
We would like to warn employers who choose to ignore this farm workers' sector determination to do so at their own peril. Our inspection and enforcement teams will be at hand to ensure that the law is implemented to the letter," said Boikanyo.
Sectoral determination deals with the protection of workers in vulnerable sectors or areas of work.
The determination sets minimum working hours, minimum wages, number of leave days and termination rules.