Johannesburg - The labour department said on Wednesday struggling farmers were not applying for a reprieve as offered by the department with regard to minimum wages.
"[Labour] Minister Mildred Oliphant said farmers crippled by the new minimum wage had an option of being given a reprieve. So far no one has taken up the offer," said spokesperson Musa Zondi.
It was reported on Wednesday that hundreds of farmworkers were losing their jobs in Limpopo.
Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farmworkers on Monday - up from the current R69 a day. It would take effect on March 1.
Farmers who wanted a reprieve had to submit their books to the department to prove their financial distress.
Agricultural trade organisation AgriSA said the retrenchments were happening even before the new minimum wage for farmworkers was announced.
AgriSA anticipated the retrenchments, said labour relations manager Elize van der Westhuizen.
"This has been happening before as struggling farmers restructure their operations, especially in labour-intensive farms in Limpopo," she said.
Farmers were not applying for the reprieve offered by the department as it was "not practical".
The farmer would have to submit financials for a previous year.
"Previous year financials have nothing to do with the present year. The department also takes its time in responding to applications, to an extent that a farmer would already be in deep trouble by the time they respond."
The situation was a blow to those farmworkers left without an income, she said.
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