Farmworkers will benefit from subsidy: DA

By Drum Digital
14 March 2013

Introducing the youth wage subsidy "without delay" could save thousands of jobs expected to be lost in the farming sector this year, the DA said on Thursday.

Addressing journalists in Parliament, Democratic Alliance MPs proposed a plan to boost job creation in the agricultural sector.

"The recent farmworker unrest in the Western Cape highlights the need for policy interventions in the farming sector that will prevent unnecessary job shedding, strengthen the financial viability of the sector, and attract greater investment," DA MP Annette Steyn said.

Experts have warned that government's recent decision to increase the minimum wage for farmworkers from R69 a day to R105 day would lead to serious job losses.

"If the youth wage subsidy were in place today, the cost of full-time employment at minimum wage for a new farmworker under 29 years of age would effectively decrease from R105 to R61 per day for the first year, with government funding the rest of the wage," Steyn said.

Creating a safety net for those who lost their jobs in the sector also needed to be prioritised.

"We need to provide for programmes that prepare workers for the gradual mechanisation of farms which will require less labour, but a higher skills demand."

Other proposed interventions included:

-- Efficient policy coherence across government departments including human settlements, local government, health, and education;

-- Consistent attention to social development, social justice, and transformation;

-- Speeding up land reform and communal land tenure rights;

-- Providing a greater investment into research and development;

-- Establishing positive trade regimes and trade relations in non-traditional markets;

-- Building and maintaining sustainable infrastructure development to support agriculture, especially expanding the irrigation infrastructure industry; and

-- Boosting investment in research and development of plant and animal vaccines and new farming methods.

"The farmworker unrest experienced last year must be a wake-up call to all players in the sector to address key concerns regarding the viability and growth of agriculture in South Africa," Steyn said.

-by Sapa

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