Bill 'will make farmers wary of hiring'

2010-12-28 09:42

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.

  • Maleo - 2010-12-28 09:59

    Stupid, very stupid...

      Boer - 2012-01-28 20:52

      Protect the farmer from hoodlums and a lot will change for the better of the country. Remember NO FARMER NO FOOD.

  • Shadoz - 2010-12-28 10:09

    Just replace them with machines. Machines don't murder,steal and they never complain.

      Brenton - 2010-12-28 10:49

      You right, but if you don't service the machine and look after it it won't last long. The same with people you can only disrespect them for a short while before they start retaliating and the only way most people know how is with violence.

      Breadman - 2010-12-28 11:35

      The problem is that machines don't go shopping or spend money on consumer goods. If we replace labour with machines, there will be less people to buy the goods produced by the machines.

  • ArtGee - 2010-12-28 10:11

    This paves the way forward for CONTRACT WORKERS! Contract workers will only get short CONTRACTS when the harvest season starts! Will not need the WHOLE LOT when things are slow! Makes perfect sense!

      rodneykdc - 2010-12-28 10:20

      That is exactly why labour brokers are so necessary

  • Arthur Phili - 2010-12-28 10:21

    Hire a qualified mechanical engineer and buy machines, or go farm up north in Africa or in Georgia.

      Brenton - 2010-12-28 10:51

      Why not just treat your workers with respect and reward them accordingly for the work that they do?

      Roger 01 - 2010-12-28 11:23

      Yes Brenton, that is quite right! What do you do when you're not getting the work you pay for? Standing by for your enlightened response!

      LuCypher - 2010-12-28 11:25

      Being a farmer of sort, I have to agree with Brenton.

      AJ - 2010-12-28 11:34

      @Brenton, or what they'll panga you to death or rape and kill your family? Some farmers seem to be getting killed despite paying their staff. Your advice to them?

      Brenton - 2010-12-28 13:34

      @Rodger, then you have right to dismiss the employee for non performance. You have to remember that employers have all the power in the working relationship and what these laws do is ensure that when an employer does decide to terminate employment it is for valid reasons and not something trivial. Let us not forget that Standard Bank decided to retrench a few people about a month or two ago and they managed to stay on the right side of law when doing so. @AJ, I am not sure what you are trying to ask me here but I will reiterate my point regarding the employer having all of the power in the working relationship so when an employer has that type of power over an individual and abuses it, whether it be physical, verbal, etc, the employee, because of his limited skill often has to put up with the abuse and even though he has all these laws protecting him he will respond with violence. In response to the latter part of your question, this has got nothing to with the proposed laws and has more to do with the bigger problem facing all of us in the country, crime. I don’t think I can give any advice on that because I am not a security professional and I have been a victim myself, I am just lucky no one got killed.

  • Ross - 2010-12-28 10:30

    Unemployment is going to go up in this country. Our labour laws are much to employee friendly with the result that entrepeneurs and business people will keep employment to an absolute minumim. We must employ the China model. Unfortumately this situation is going te reach a breaking point with nasty results.

      kleindeef - 2010-12-28 17:17

      100% Agreed. I'm an employer and for the very same reasons you state, got rid of 70 out of the 80 employees over the last six months. I'm out of the "prison" that these laws created. Less turnover does not always mean less profit. Only keep the cream of the crop. They are the ones that complain the least anyway.

  • colinwjamieson - 2010-12-28 10:42

    There are plenty of poor white people that are willing to work on farms even on contract!

      Brenton - 2010-12-28 11:09

      You are missing the point, those same laws will be used to protect all labour not just Black labour.

      Carolyn - 2010-12-28 11:54

      Colin the last time I said this I was deleted, guess that is what the black farm labourers would like to do to the white ones.

  • annie.kalahari - 2010-12-28 10:50

    The 'proposed' Bill being rubberstamped like all the other 'proposed" ANC-Bills, will undoubtedly encourage the very few remaining commercial farmers to proceed on their ongoing course of modernising their farms , which makes them much more self-reliant: as is also happening in the rest of the world, the 'new farm labourer' will be better paid anyway as he has to have technical/mechanical skills to keep all that sophisticated equipment running. However what makes the commercial farmers of South Africa more wary of their own workers is the fact that 3,769 farmers and their family membehave already been murdered in cold blood on their farms and smallholdings while working hard to produce food for the nation. The majority of the armed gangs who kill farmers drive in from the cities to do, but 8% of all the convicted farm-murderers thus far were their own workers. Only some 350,000 taxpaying farmworkers now remain on the 12,000 commercial farms. In 1994 there were some 1,6-million workers living on 85,000 extcommercial farms with their extnded families. They all had jobs, free food, free housing and free schooling in farm-schools for their kids, paid for by the farmers.Those days are gone forever... the bcommercial farming sector has been broken by the ANC-regime: all the farms were turned into the tax-cows of local municipalities because the rural regions became border-to-border municipalities. There are no 'rural regions' left: they are all municipal land now.

  • JudithNkwe - 2010-12-28 10:53

    We have to look at this whole problem differently. All that labour laws are achieving right now is fewer and fewer employed. This increases the burden on those who are employed to support the rest; it creates groowing unrest and instability. Everyone willing to employ people needs to be incentivised and supported in doing so. It requires the unions to come to this party with the realisation that they are creating a bed of thorns for themselves by ring fencing jobs with their huge demands. Equity is essential as is fairness, however, we cannot continue throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It serves no one.

  • Grant - 2010-12-28 10:57

    "A worker who was then fairly dismissed would lose the right to live on the farm". This sounds on the face of it to be perfectly fair and reasonable. Now if the labour relations act could just be amended to make it possible to "fairly dismiss" a worker for poor performance!

  • Bloedrivier - 2010-12-28 11:16

    The government thinks they are protecting people with all these laws and bills,but they are alienating the possible employers from employing. How many people lost their jobs thanks to the minimum wage bill? I know I had to let my domestic worker go because I simply couldn't afford her, so the government is actively participating in increasing the unemployment rate. The same with farm workers, a lot of them were let go due to the minimum wage laws. Now farmers will simply not employ more people because it becomes such a management risk with the new bill that he will look at alternatives.

  • impete - 2010-12-28 11:37

    It is at times like this that re-inforces that I was right in seeing the writing on the wall and selling the family farm that my father had built up from nothing over 50 years. It has become a disincentive to be involved in agriculture ever since the well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed ESTA act came into being. A classic case of the government shooting itsself in the foot!! It seems like they have now shot the other one!!

  • Witrot - 2010-12-28 12:01

    The government is NOT really seeing the big picture here!!!!!!!!! What will happen now is that the informal settlements will grow bigger and crime will me more rife!!! Because the farmers fear housing rights and strikes they employ the labourers on contract for a few months and give them transport from their informal homes. And for three months of the year they are unemployed and then these people suffer and what do they do to survive? Yes..... And people who live in towns are then robbed. Farmers not all do not contribute to their local municipalities for their workers houses, we do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      gburger2254 - 2010-12-28 14:17

      Witrot ,sover ek weet betaal die boere wel grondbelasting,diensfooie en krag,waar gaan daardie geld heen?

      Witrot - 2010-12-28 14:56

      @gburger..... Nie aan die klein dorpies waar hulle werkers wel woon nie!! Elke jaar Junie kyk wie sit die vliegtuie vol met dik beursies. Kyk daar is wel boere wat besorged is oor die welsyn van sy werker, wat tien teen een die volgende werk generasie op die plaas gaan wees! Maar dit is 'n klein hoeveelheid boere. Vra 'n bietjie vir die arbeiders op enige plaas waar die meerderheid van die werkers bly en hulle sal vir jou daai geroeste huisies teen die pad wat die natuur verwoes en versuur, te gaan wys. Boere moet vas gevat word en meer belasting betaal as hulle werkers in plakers kampe bly.

      Jakkals - 2010-12-28 18:54

      Witrot Ek is 'n boer en ek moet grondbelasting betaal en vir dienste soos paaie skraap en vuilgoed verwyder. Daar is nog NOOIT enige pad van my geskraap en nog NOOIT enige vullis verwyder nie. Duidelik is jy nie 'n boer nie en weet nie wat aangaan met werkers op plase nie. Soos iemand alreeds gese het kry werkers gratis behuising ( 100 x beter as die krotte waarin hulle gebly het) hulle kry gratis water, hulle kry melk,vleis, groente en mieliemeel(GRATIS) hulle kry oorpakke en waterskoene(GRATIS) hulle kry beddens en matrasse en komberse, hulle kry potte en panne en emmers (want hulle kom met niks werk soek, net die vlenterklere en baie maal sonder skoene ook)Hulle kry pille en hoesmedisyne en vir hulle vrou en string kinders as hulle siek is. Die vrouens word aangery kliniek toe vir voorbehoedpille en siek babas (gratis). Dan kry hulle nog MEER as 'n minimum loon vir die werk wat hulle verrig. Hulle kinders gaan gratis skool en word nog aangery ook. hulle kan tuinmaak en groente plant. As jy weer sien dan lewe daar 'n klomp "susters" en ooms en maatjies in jou werkers se huise saam met hulle en eet jou kos en was met jou water en gebruik jou brandstof om te kook. Ek is so moeg vir al die oppas en polisieman speel dat ek nog net 2 oor het. Ek is nie meer 'n welsynorganisasie nie en ek doen eerder die meeste goed self en maak my boerdery baaaie kleiner en het rus vir my siel.

  • Brenton - 2010-12-28 15:28

    @News24 what criteria is used to censor comments? It doesn't seem that there is any consistency.

  • Hugh - 2010-12-28 17:35

    I have to assume that those who are in favour of the proposed law would be happy to give away part of their home to their maid. For that is the essence of the new law. Worse still it makes it harder to replace those who abuse their employers rights. How many would employ a maid if they are forced by law to make her permanent after 27 hrs of work. As an employer I am aware that to fire someone is very difficult and expensive. Few employees appreciate the fact that they have a job. Laziness and tardiness do not seem to be deemed a good reason firing someone. An employer is expected to retrain the fully trained to allow him or her to break another expensive machine. Another problem is that all employees know right from wrong but for some unknown reason they have a pechant for choosing the wrong.

  • witboer - 2010-12-28 19:57

    Why dont farmers just employ white people that wants to work. ??? Take you a bet crime will be down big time. Why should they employ darkies. ?

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