R1m pledged for farm workers' union

2013-02-09 19:40

Johannesburg - The SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) on Saturday pledged R1m for the establishment of a formal farmworkers' union.

"This is an act of concrete solidarity in our quest for a living wage and decent work for vulnerable workers, in true Cosatu tradition, " Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel said.

Kriel was speaking at a recruitment planning meeting of the Food & Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu), held at the Fawu offices in Gugulethu, Cape Town.

The pledge included support for the establishment of a professionally run union for the farm workers.

Sactwu and Fawu are both affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

Kriel challenged other Cosatu affiliates to also make a pledge to support the formation of a union for farm workers.

"Press releases of support are not enough. Concrete action to build farm workers’ organised collective strength is now urgently required," he said.

"If all Cosatu unions meet the Sactwu challenge, such a recruitment fund will result in a R26m strong farm workers’ recruitment fund, immediately."

Farmworkers in the Western Cape's De Doorns area went on strike last year, demanding the minimum daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a cohesive land reform programme be implemented.

On Monday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farm workers - up from the current R69 a day - to take effect from March 1 this year.

Oliphant said an exemption from the new minimum wage would be available to farmers who could provide proof that their financial situation was so poor that they would be forced to shut down operations if their wage bill rose accordingly.

According to farmers' union TAU SA, they could not afford the new minimum daily wage announced by minister. Some farmers threatened to retrench workers saying they could not afford the new minimum wage.

At least 2000 farmworkers had reportedly already been issued with notices of retrenchment, Business Day reported on Thursday.

By Wednesday the labour department had not received applications for a reprieve as offered by the department.


  • MarkH - 2013-02-09 20:00

    I would think that the very last thing we need is another union. We need less unions and more jobs to be created and the creating of unions just reduces the number of jobs being created. Why? Because of unreasonable wage demands when profits are already too small to survive on. Makes sense to me but obviously not to those looking for power. Economics for dummies - read the book, understand the concept, Andre Kriel.

      rodney.bevan.58 - 2013-02-09 20:59

      One has to wonder, did the union leadership decide this on their own, or did they ask their members if it was ok to hand funds over? I may be wrong, but somehow I think this was a decision taken by the leadership. Let's see how the members react to their money being used like this.

      lacrimosewolf - 2013-02-09 21:12

      Oh well this is yet another tired, raggedy old paradigm trying to address 21st century issues.

      mark.a.fysh - 2013-02-10 17:28

      Since farmers are often used as employer of last resort, where will all the uneducated workers be employed now? Gvt will be saddled with yet another group who have been marginalised out of jobs. Unions, in any event will not have the resources to canvass on far-flung farms and will merely concentrate on large intensive farming enterprises.

  • Agent - 2013-02-09 20:01

    With so few farm workers going to have jobs who will fund that union??????

  • - 2013-02-09 20:07

    Here is a suggestion before lager gets too much to my head: We can use a wage subsidy of sorts on farms. Farmers are subsidised throughout the western world; so can we by meeting the difference between R105 and the R150. You can multiply that by the number of workers (and see whether its close to losses through corruption and nepotism) and look at the effect of food security. Or am I halucinating on this addiction...

  • Strikeback - 2013-02-09 20:13

    SACTWU has shown how many jobs they can destroy in a short time in the textile industry with factories closing down all over. Strikeback offers free membership to all agricultural unions to fight back and destroy any newly formed union. If their members are not employed, they will get nowhere! Farmers and Agricultural unions, send your applications to admin@strikeback. for your free subscription now! List all union members and strikers and ensure they are not accidentily employed by your neighbour.

      womba.wonder - 2013-02-09 21:26

      That's encouraging something illegal.

      Strikeback - 2013-02-10 06:14

      womba.wonder Your knowledge of the law is seems limited. Strikeback is merely an information database. You do - we tell! We keep detail of actual actions by people that is public information. When people strike they want the whole world to see it. We merely keep this information so the ones that was working at the time can also see it - you should thank us.

  • lbrandcarstens - 2013-02-09 20:26

    I have spoken to farmers in De Doorns, Robertson, Tulbagh, Wellington and Ceres and all of them say the same thing: that it was not their own farm workers who went on strike, it was bus loads of people, who were brought into the area, that was responsible for all the havoc, and whom intimidated and threatened the farm workers. How sick, that the governing party resort to these koind of tactics, and now there will be more unemployment. Interesting to note that not once did we hear of strikes in Limpopo but it is one of the regions who is affected in a big way. Way to go government, way to go

      willie.olivier.144 - 2013-02-09 22:07

      Well, if that's the case, fire the whole lot and bring in cheap labor from China!

      Nicole - 2013-02-10 08:33

      I met a farmer who was forced to sell his farm to the government for the people who were squatting on the land. It was a fully functional farm and he had to leave it as that for the people to run. Three months later he returned and everything had been stripped for scrap metal etc... Surely one of these guys would have taken initiative to build a life for themselves and their family with what was given to them?

  • mordikaai.speak - 2013-02-09 21:03

    With things as they are unions are just causing more job losses. A union has its place but our current unions are there for self gain with no true regard for the worked. I have first hand knowledge I was a shop steward for the largest union. The time has come for change otherwise we are going to have a great fall.

      womba.wonder - 2013-02-09 21:28

      Unity is strength.

      reality - 2013-02-09 22:32

      Too much strength causes job losses

      heibrin.venter - 2013-02-10 09:25

      @Womba: and with enough strength you can break off your own finger in your @ss!

  • womba.wonder - 2013-02-09 21:12

    What's wrong with FAWU? Food and Allied Workers' Union.

  • Bob - 2013-02-09 21:58

    They should focus on fixing their own industry first before dabbling in others' affairs. The textile and clothing industry gets shafted more and more by Chinese imports which puts major strain on wages and profitability for locals, yet they're dead silent until factories can't contain the losses anymore and seek retrenchments. Why not force the government to actually do something for a change and start protecting the industry? FIFA 2010 clothing merchandise was all made in China and I'll bet up to this day that the party T-shirts and clothing the ANC hands out are also all made in China.

  • craig.hume.33 - 2013-02-09 22:08

    This is the same union that told my factory union rep that during maternity leave, the woman gets 6 months paid and the man gets 3 months. I wonder what my staff will say when they see that their money is being given away, instead of being used to improve things in their industry.

  • Lira4lineo - 2013-02-09 22:09

    This is a step in the right direction, I wouldn't mind mobilising and being an organiser for such a union, we want a strong and farmworker's dedicated union, fawu has done its best but now we must have a farmworkers union that will focus on wages, working conditions,farm evictions, living conditions etc

  • johan.vanheerden.12 - 2013-02-09 22:10

    The workers in the clothing sector are struggling and lose their jobs while union fees are deducted every payday. Why has the union so much cash to spare for something that has nothing to do with them? Rather help out their own people by lowering the fees, seems they pay too much

      solo.mathe.5 - 2013-02-10 00:19

      Union fees are not that much... Calm down!

  • zeenat.allie.16 - 2013-02-09 22:21

    And again.... Go f@@k yourselves.... This time by jumping into bed with a bunch if thieves posing as a union.

  • stanley.mabunda.5 - 2013-02-09 22:28

    if u want to earn more,go to school

      dave.kofang - 2013-02-10 04:58

      Goin 2 school with that salary?Do u knw how much is registration feel?Eish oskaba stlaela.

  • Bra - 2013-02-09 22:33

    BBC knowledge had a documentary on Verwoerd assassination, in it he is quoted saying Apartheid is in the best interest of the natives. I see a lot of u here still have that mentality.

      stanley.mabunda.5 - 2013-02-09 22:49

      my bra apartheid is long gone,don't force feed me with that diet....tell them to go school.

      solo.mathe.5 - 2013-02-10 00:18

      Its no secrete that a lot of white people believe that apartheid was the best option for this country. They will deny it though, but they know that deep down they cry cry the beloved apartheid system

      guru100 - 2013-02-10 04:47

      @Solo' they say they were sold by De Klerk

      ann.ornelas - 2013-02-10 07:21

      Not all Bra and Solo. A handful only who tarnish the rest of "us" with the same brush..

  • calvin.mbhele - 2013-02-09 23:17

    So in this article it states that farmers got their union (TAU),then why can't farm workers have their own too? What I like also is the fact that no black man is called Kriel so this Kriel dude is not black and he is not gonna be called uneducated though he fights for poor workers to have unions,those saying if you want to earn more go to school, they must substitute their brains from the azz and think, do you really need a diploma to remove weed from the crop? Or to water plants? Stoopid!!! Lastly,we have educated people in SA called teachers(with Bachelor of Degrees) that earn peanuts,do they have to study more also to earn more?

      Strikeback - 2013-02-10 07:18

      Calvin. If you want to bring race into the discussion, I would suggest you do your homework. You simply "hoped" that Kriel is a white Afrikaner. Kriel is, if one should bring race into the issue, a coloured gentleman - not white. This is however not the point. If the clothing and textile industry was booming and workers all happily employed, I would be the first to congratulate Kriel, however, the textile industry is in serious trouble and many jobs are lost. Textile workers should also take note - this is where your money goes. This time it was not spend on Whiskey and meat.

      Harry1946 - 2013-02-10 07:31

      This Kriel happens to be a so-called Coloured. Come to the Western Cape where there are even Xhosas with surnames like De Villiers. Get over your petty complexes man!

  • solo.mathe.5 - 2013-02-10 00:13

    Why are farmers not taking up this offer. Spite and greed?... Well, now we know... - 2013-02-10 06:15

      @ Solo think before you write/type. How long do you think it will take for the admin and processing of the application for a reprieve, if a farmer decides to take up the offer? With their history of red tape, it will more than likely take a long time. And in the mean time, what does the farmer pay? The new or old wages?

  • jakes.cakedregs - 2013-02-10 06:14

    We should start a movement to get ALL unions banned. These organisations only drag the economy down. A mature society does not need unions.

  • pieter.a.swanepoel - 2013-02-10 11:27

    1. You the union call the worker for a strike PAY THEM 2. Where is all there MONEY what they PAY IN by your OFFICE how many thunders and Thusens of Rand was pay in. 3, You the UNION must look after your workers if his lost MONEY OR HIS JOB you had take him/her come and toy. If not they was hit and sambok by your members. 4. Why other peoples must take out MONEY for you.

  • FinalJustice - 2013-02-10 13:49

    Surveyed minimal wages in Zimbabwe in US$ per month:

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