Meeting on farm workers’ wages ‘to put SA first’

2012-11-21 00:00

REPRESENTATIVES of employers and employees in the farming sector will meet this week to review the minimum wage for farm workers.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant called for a review of the sectoral determination for farm workers after wage strikes in the Western Cape that caused millions of rands in damage to the sector.

The sectoral determination prescribes minimum wages and conditions of employment for workers in vulnerable sectors, such as farming and domestic work.

A legal expert affiliated to one of the agricultural unions warned that any adjustment or review of wages could only be effected on March 1 next year.

The department said in a statement recently that the minister had called on all interested parties, including organised agriculture, to comment on the possibility of reviewing the sectoral determination for farm workers.

Agricultural and labour unions have agreed to participate in the negotiations that will begin tomorrow.

The employers and the employees will each be represented by a team of eight people and the talks will be mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

“I would like to urge all the parties to go into these talks with openness and willingness to bring to a close the recent events that have been threatening to engulf our country and put it on a dangerous course regarding food security.

“Most of the representatives have shown that they are interested in putting the needs of the country first — instead of their narrow interests and I would like to commend them,” said the minister.

Annelize Crosby, a legal expert affiliated with the union AgriSA, said any wage changes ordered by the minister could only be effected in March next year.

She warned that any large increase could be detrimental to the industry. “Any heavy adjustments, like R150 a month, could see the sector being reorganised, with farmers using more machines and we could definitely see job losses.”

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