Fin24

Farmworker jobs on the line

2012-11-21 13:39

Cape Town - An "exorbitant" increase in the minimum wage for farmworkers will bring about job losses and mechanisation in the sector, Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder said on Wednesday.

He said farmers were ready to limit their reliance on farmworkers, following the recent violent strikes in various farming towns in the Western Cape.

"The current agricultural strikes will change agriculture in South Africa forever," he said at an agriculture day in Willowmore in the Eastern Cape.

Mulder said a reduction in the number of farmworkers over the past seven years was part of an international trend, but the situation in South Africa was compounded by a range of controversial decisions.

Farmworker numbers had decreased from over one million in 2004 to 624 000 in 2011.

"Factors such as land reform, government interference on farms and the general insecurity about the future of agriculture has made this figure in South Africa much higher than the decrease in other countries," Mulder said.

He said the number of jobs lost will speed up as farmers move to mechanisation following the strikes.

"In developed countries such as the USA and Australia, where there are few farmworkers available, farm implements are already so developed that it assists farm owners to manage without hundreds of farmworkers."

Mulder said more than half of commercial farmers in the country had a turnover of less than R300 000.

"With the increasing prices in electricity, water and fuel, farmers cannot afford the sudden increase in labour costs."

Mulder said farmers will be left with two choices: bankruptcy or staff cuts.

Comments
  • charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-11-21 13:53

    The minimum wage needs to be looked at for sure. How can someone earn less than R 15 an hour these days, for ANY work done??? Even car guards who do jack standing around parking lots, earn more than R 15 an hour. This government minimum wage is disgusting!!!

      reinier.van.den.bergh - 2012-11-21 14:01

      Maybe you should pay more for your food, then the farmer can pay its workers more

      andres.dewet - 2012-11-21 14:05

      Commenting off hearsay. Do car guards get free education, free retirement, free housing, free transport, free adult upskilling, subsidised electricity, Christmas and harvest bonuses? Many wine farmers DO provide this. Many wine farmers cannot access overseas markets without FairTrade, Eurepgap or similar stringent labour certification. Yes, wages are low... agreed. However, you educate people out of poverty, you don't legislate people out of poverty. If legislation is too draconian, businesses simply get a machine to do the job of low-skilled labour. Think carefully who's going to get the short-end of the stick before one proposes a radically different economic/labour policy.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-11-21 14:07

      The min wage was negotiated with many factors taken into consideration. Rising fuel costs, emerging farmers, small scale farmers. Also farmers are heavily taxed by govt already. Apart from min wages, amny workers enjoy added benefits, housing, electricity, water, DSTV (on my friends farms - yep, his workers all have DSTV). Not ALL farmers are rich, not ALL farmers can afford R150 a worker per day. Hence the min was negotiated considering all these and many more factors.

      andres.dewet - 2012-11-21 14:16

      Why is nobody raising hell that in wine for example, government makes more off each bottle of wine than the producer!?! Why is government expecting an agri-business to act as local government or a social service, when in reality, government get more from their work? Where's the outcry that government is not reinvesting this taxation in rural development and skills development?

      WysJouMys - 2012-11-21 14:30

      Just a quick observation.... if you look at the photo above, you will se the ''worker'' in the middle carrying something... is it a sack of potatoes perhaps?? NO, its a child! Now, herein lies the problem. If you earn, like you said, R15 a hour why the hell do you have children? Surely things cant be THAT bad then, now can it? Its all about priorities.

      Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-11-21 15:07

      Is there any truth that the president is "Stepping Down" this week? The farmworkers could even afford repatriation to where they fled from in the east in that case!

      Kevin - 2012-11-21 17:50

      so charles - what is your solution - as stated 50% of farms have a turnover of less than R300 000 - who would run a business with all the risks for this and take all the S..t dished out by the politicians.....?

      Klaus - 2012-11-23 13:58

      @Charles, currently at Fruit & Veg city - 1 x english cucumber, 2 x green peppers, 1 x packet cocktail tomato and 1 x lettuce - all for R 30.00 ! This is retail price, how much goes to farmer - he who has to pay for growing, packing, staff and hopefully a bit of profit for a rainy day?

  • kenpeg.dawson - 2012-11-21 13:55

    They deserve to loose their jobs.

      charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-11-21 13:59

      I have a major problem with the dark-ages way we go about resolving labour disputes in SA. The public violence and destruction is savage and primitive. BUT - I think the low wages and the government's minimum wage is disgraceful. I'd cry if I had to try support my small family at the current rate. I wouldn't destroy property and act like a savage though, but I'd cry...

      jacovniek - 2012-11-21 15:09

      lose

      pyn.appel - 2012-11-21 15:49

      @ Kagoso.booi - FACT workers and unemployed in developed countries DO bahave just as barbaric as the farmworkers did in SA and the common factor is "those not educated", hence those with schooling but no further tersierary education. Have you ever been in an developed world!?!?! Unemployment also high but the governments pay for ALL of them not just those of a certain colour/race!

      harry.dewet.5 - 2012-11-21 17:33

      @Kagiso: A good economy is determined by "supply and demand" principles. The government however messes up the economy by enforcing laws such as AA, BEE, and minimum wages. This is the main reason why farm worker numbers have decreased over the past decade. Think about it: if there are lots of people who want jobs, they get paid less; on the other hand, if there is more work (or few workers), the workers will not only get paid extremely well, but will also be treated very well. These are unfortunately the facts of life - just check and you will see the same happen in other African countries... In countries like Ukraine, the average monthly income is only R3000, whilst food and clothes cost the same as in SA. These people will work for much less than R15 per hour and they are all white people who do not complain - if they turned violent and damaged property, they are either all arrested and put into prison, or shot dead if they resisted arrest. We have no proper security in SA and no respect for the pathetic police and criminal law systems - what a criminal's paradise! The ANC cannot change the basic rules of a free economy, nor can they expect good results for the poor citizens when they interfere. Abraham Lincoln said in the mid 1800's: "We,the American government can only help the poor by helping the rich" - since then the USA became the strongest economy in the world...

      bheki.dingiswayo - 2012-11-23 12:10

      I happen to own a piece of land on which I graze few farm animals. I have realised that labour and electricity are the most expensive item. I have to have two employees for the work of one because one is always sick/ drunk, further they take longer to just do a simple task that suppose to take a day it them three. Hope you see the picture

  • gary.desousa.7 - 2012-11-21 13:55

    Its time for the workers to reap what they sowed. Its also time to buy, rent as many cherrypickers as possible to meet the demand for mechanization.

      morris.khunou - 2012-11-21 15:39

      Brutal in nature! Dead soul!

  • pierre.pretorius.370 - 2012-11-21 14:02

    I agree - they have the right to strike and demand a better wage. However, once they become violent and burn down farms, they deserve nothing less than to be fired and convicted.

  • KevinKing - 2012-11-21 14:10

    Over 1 million farm workers have lost their jobs, and these are black workers. In a country with already high unemployment. Well done!!!

  • KevinKing - 2012-11-21 14:10

    Since 1994

  • vanzyld - 2012-11-21 14:12

    Good on you farmers. Why is it your responsibility to generate jobs for the entire economy? Rather, there is a surplus of unskilled labour. Which you now have to pay a premium for? See my robot do its work!

  • strikeback.strikeback - 2012-11-21 14:15

    Strikeback has predicted the reduction in farm workers the moment it was clear that the farm worker strikes are violent in nature. Erenreicht's men has brought this upon themselves. Mechanisation is the way forward. It is high time we stop seeing job creation as existing business's responsibility. No one appreciates your efforts in any way! Why do we still have petrol attendants? Most of the countries Strikeback has visited, you fill your own vehicle up and pay at a central point. In South Africa, we create jobs at expense to the employer, and then we want to force him to carry the social responsibility of the workers entire family. Let the government create the jobs they promised during election campaigns.Stop wasting our money we have left after tax!.www.strikeback.co.za

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-21 14:16

    Fire the anc minded worker asap!

  • philschalkwyk - 2012-11-21 14:16

    so how do the farmers get them off their land??

  • andres.dewet - 2012-11-21 14:39

    Kagiso, yes "It is the government’s responsibility to cater for the unemployed." However, do they? COSATU looks after the unionised employed, NUMSA looks after the unionised employed, FAWU and SATAWU looks after the unionised employed. All allies of the ANC national government.

  • Andre Webster - 2012-11-21 14:47

    Farmers will be moving north and the employment in SA will be rising.... ANC is VERY cleaver

      jacovniek - 2012-11-21 15:10

      Yeah... we need to cleave them, for sure. They are not as clever as they make themselves out to be :)

      morris.khunou - 2012-11-21 15:43

      Are farmers born or made Awebby?

  • jacovniek - 2012-11-21 15:08

    Have a low minimum wage. Drop all the other nonsense (housing, etc.), make it illegal to strike and you'll triple the number of jobs in 6 months.

  • morris.khunou - 2012-11-21 15:20

    Agshm! I fear some will be thrown in Lion enclosures for daring to excersice their democratic right by their brutal masters!

  • andries.d.plessis.9 - 2012-11-21 15:27

    Ha haaa....lekker julle f0KK3r5 !

  • david.wolpert.39 - 2012-11-21 15:32

    What does Pieter Mulder do,besides take a salary for being Joemat-Petterson's sidekick? What has he achieved for farmers?

  • morris.khunou - 2012-11-21 15:36

    Farm workers have their human dignity and basic human rights taken away from them. Many of them are treated as subjects with no value. Treated as posesions to the point where even their birth control is managed by their masters. i.e. decisions on when and who should be breed controled by their masters as they do with their animals. Doping system still being used as a form of payment in a very disguised system. Example the farmer will have a disguised grocery and a liquor shop. Food and liquor will be loaned to workers and the non-existent money will be deducted from their wages. Off start a new cycle.

      harry.dewet.5 - 2012-11-21 17:22

      A good economy is determined by "supply and demand" principles. The government however messes up the economy by enforcing laws such as AA, BEE, and minimum wages. This is the main reason why farm worker numbers have decreased over the past decade. Think about it: if there are lots of people who want jobs, they get paid less; on the other hand, if there is more work (or few workers), the workers will not only get paid extremely well, but will also be treated very well. These are unfortunately the facts of life - just check and you will see the same happen in other African countries... In countries like Ukraine, the average monthly income is only R3000, whilst food and clothes cost the same as in SA. These people will work for much less than R15 per hour and they are all white people who do not complain - if they turned violent and damaged property, they are either all arrested and put into prison, or shot dead if they resisted arrest. We have no proper security in SA and no respect for the pathetic police and criminal law systems - what a criminal's paradise! The ANC cannot change the basic rules of a free economy, nor can they expect good results for the poor citizens when they interfere. Abraham Lincoln said in the mid 1800's: "We,the American government can only help the poor by helping the rich" - since then the USA became the strongest economy in the world.

      bheki.dingiswayo - 2012-11-23 12:15

      Which farm(s) are you referring to?

      glpkruger - 2012-11-24 13:28

      Who do you think negotiated the minimum wages for farm workers? Helen Zille? The DA? No! The national government under control of the ANC. So if you want to point fingers, look that way. And the low wage is deliberate. It keeps workers dependent on social grants and angry, and that plays directly into the hands of the ANC. They don't want growth, or wealth or better future for the masses. They want ignorance because it keeps them in power.

      arie.vdplaats.3 - 2012-11-26 21:38

      Morris.khunou,I have very good reason to believe that you do not have the faintest perception of what you are talking about. Go back to school and learn to become an objective observer and you will notice a completely different country emerging

  • phae.rayden - 2012-11-21 15:44

    Why is the weight of food prices being loaded on the backs of the workers? What about mismanaged Escom? And the high profit margins of wholesalers and retailers? Why aren't farmers demanding reasonable prices from them? We know they get paid virtually zilch compared to what we land up paying. Why do we accept this daylight robbery from them? They are screwing SA over both ways. This whole thing seems @rse about face to me, and the wrong people, farmer's and labourer's, are being destroyed by the likes of Tiger Brand and Checker's etc.

      barnie.huysamer - 2012-11-21 17:26

      Very valid comment Phae.

      bheki.dingiswayo - 2012-11-23 12:16

      Farmers compete with import i.e. chicken from Brazil

  • KCorsar - 2012-11-21 15:55

    If Government is serious about reducing unemployment; increasing the land under agriculture, thereby securing our food security!! Then farm workers should be allowed a living wage, but making allowance for those farmers that accommodate and subsidise food costs for their staff. Also farmers should be given a tax incentive for employing people!!!! that way two birds, one stone

      mammudi.makgaleng.3 - 2012-11-21 19:27

      Exactly. That's the only way to go. But what do you expect if you are lead by an uneducated womanizer???

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:48

      isnt it amazing that no one else has thought to implement something like that? It SOUNDS like common sense....

  • smaabe - 2012-11-21 15:58

    Deputy Minister is from FF Plus. There's two things that must happen in the farms, either they pay those people, or they close shop. Simple neh!

  • greg.berchenko - 2012-11-21 16:34

    Farm workers are demanding the equivalent of less than $20/day. During the protests, some of them have used harsh methods. However, it speaks to the fact that farmworkers in Azania are tired of the brutalization, human rights abuses and exploitation that white farmers have dished out.

  • darryn.rogers - 2012-11-21 16:37

    This is NOT a farmworkers strike, a third party started this whole strike. Nobody in the world earns "enough" everything is relative bill gates and the like want more money and would find it hard to understand how someone could live on R20 000,00 a month, likewise a farmworker earning R70 a day would find it very hard to understand how an indian worker can live on R10 a day and most importantly do not forget no matter what you earn, your expenses will rise to meet your income.

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:49

      So very true.

  • mart.botha - 2012-11-21 16:59

    When Government fails....they blame business. When they appeal for business to get more involved in fixing things, it is an admission that they, the Government, have failed. The two operative words here are Government and Fail. Only when they acknowledge this which they never will, we can take the first step to fixing things.

  • unwelcome.za - 2012-11-21 16:59

    Unfortuantely mechanisation is the way to go. Same with the mines. Crazy that the people driving these strikes are driving these (ex)workers into a whole lot more suffering.

  • quarty.vanzyl - 2012-11-21 17:55

    the government will be very happy if the farmers go bankrupt, then these farms will end up in the hands of AA farmers. We can then start eating our old shoes.

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:50

      I'm saving mine for when the price of old shoes at Fruit & Veg soar...

  • vjs.house - 2012-11-21 23:47

    Almal van ons wil graag meer geld verdien en 'n beter lewe beleef en daar is niks fout daar mee nie! Maar waar is Griekeland, Italië, bankrot, niks doen!! , staat moet sorg!! Die ANC het een groot problem vir hulle self veroorsaak!! Gratis huis, minum heff. water, elektrisiteit, min eiendombelasting(nie seker van toepasting)< kindertoelae onbeperk( Beperk dit tot 2 kinders) Verskuiwingstoelae, ouderdomstoelae, ens !! Hel word wakker!!! Jy skep 'n nasie wat op sy gat sit !!(Griekland) Wie betaal daarvoor!! Dieselde Kleinsakeman wat ook die water en Elektrisiteit rekening(sub) moet betaal. DIe groot banke in SUID AFRIKA gebruik weereens die Kleinsakeman om te sub. vir lenings/ens. Kyk maar na die bankkoste van die Kleinsake man!!! betaal meer as die privaat individue en ook meer as die Kettingwinkels!! Dus 'n grap!! die beginsel van meer transaksies geld! dus tog logies dat 'n Kleinsakeman meer transaksies het as die privaat persoon, waarom betaal ons meer as die indivdu!!

  • dennis.ras.92 - 2012-11-22 07:05

    When a property developer plan to develop, he has to do an environmental impact study. Basically finding out what effect his development would have on the environment etc. however, when politicians decide they want to change the way the country functioned over millions and millions of years, they just go ahead and do it. There is no assessment of long term repercussions whatsoever. No one to be held accountable and no tap over their fingers. I do not consider it intellectual leadership in any way argued.

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-22 07:31

    Kagiso & Morris, you just don't get it. Farming could create 1million jobs to 2020. The interference of ANC and Cosatu will more likely cost 30% of all agriculture jobs. We are planning to reduce 20-30% in the short term on all our farms. See the wood for the trees. Action = Reaction. I am a businessman and not a socialman. Look at what Brazil did right and then look at what Argentina did wrong. Give me your reply once you figured it out and we can discuss this constructively.

  • paul.davidsonii.3 - 2012-11-22 12:43

    Rubbish, if farmers can afford the rising costs of electricity, water and fuel, Why they can't afford the rising costs of labourers?

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:53

      ....realy?

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-22 13:05

    Paul, speak like a true uninformed person. Will just cut labour, which will result in more unemployment or plant products that is less labour intensive. Boer maak 'n plan!

  • paul.davidsonii.3 - 2012-11-22 13:37

    @ Altus, somehow, you sound like a politician and the tone of your comments further depict SA's farming industry as is not sustainable on its own without compromising on the high costs of labourers. Out of all the costs of farming, you are only threatened by the costs of labourers, not the costs of electricity, not the cost of water, and not the costs of fuel. Why? I am a firm believer of quality and sustainable dealings - I rather have 10 well paid and happy employees to farm a 500 hecters piece of land than to have 1000 underpaid and dissatisfied labourers to farm a 500 hectres of land. What is a use to have a serviceable tractors to be driven by a starving labourers? Isn't labourers form part of the farm's asserts? Once you finish your daily work, you wash your tractors and other equipments, while your labourers goes to bed without a bath? Without a meal? Is that a what you stand for as farmers? Is that what you mean Boer maak a plan?

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:56

      ...Ever been to a farm? 10 people working 500 hectar... can just hear the people shouting slave labour in the background...

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-22 14:03

    Paul, come and visit me on my farms and I will show you how well we treat our farm workers. We pay on average 24% above minimum wage. If you don't farm yourself, then stop sounding like you do. Profit margins are affected by all the factors you mentioned, but labour amounts to 66% of out input cost. Electricity and water we have changed to green technology to save costs. Currently profit margins are 3-4%. Doubling wages...well you do the math.

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 12:57

      I'll bet that neither Paul, the government, the unions or the farm workers helped pay the costs of going green...

  • paul.davidsonii.3 - 2012-11-22 15:15

    Altus, debating these issues here won't help us with anything - what do you think need to be done?. For improved farm workers wages is must, as it is a must in various sectors. According to me, by this time in SA the lowest paid worker was supposed to be paid a leaving salary of at least R3 100. I think government need to intervene with improved subsidy and incentives to help farmers meet at least R3 100 for lowest paid farmers. What do you think,? And what is your proposal? For, we can't bank on your 24% average pay above the minimum wage - most enterprise are paying above minimum wage which is far below the a leaving wage, and this has been done deliberately in various sectors to enable businesses to silence workers and other stakeholders whenever there are issues like this. Deny it if I am wrong?

      hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 13:01

      ...I wouldnt hav ethought it at thebeginning of this debate between you and Altus, but I actualy agree with you on the following: "I think government need to intervene with improved subsidy and incentives to help farmers meet at least R3 100 for lowest paid farmers" Whatever the salary, I think that the gov should start assisting where they can, instead of taking where they can...

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-23 07:25

    Paul, the ANC and Cosatu started this and they should contribute to the minimun wage if they feel it is too low. The ANC set the minimum wage and we comply. I am a businessman first and foremost. Farming will change indefinately, throuhh exit strategies like the mines. Other African countries pay R30-40 per day and their economy is growing which creates more jobs. If agriculture falls, ALL will be effected, through increased food prices, increase unemployment and crime as a result. The poor again will suffer the most, but at least they have R70 a day and not nothing currently. A living wage differs and you definition will differ from a farm worker's definition. They also get social grants. Don't look back in 10 years from now and wonder how agriculture decreased at such a rapid pace, that not any government would entice a farmer to invest again. I will be retired, on an island and laughing about could have been.....

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-23 07:57

    Paul, Lincoln said:'If you want to take care of the poor, look after the rich.' This made America the richest country in the world with the strongest middle in the world. Brazil followed the same strategy and it worked. Adopting a social state will destroy business and investments. Give farmers the right to decide what they want to pay, instead of what they have to pay. Ponder on this idea over the weekend and you will see it it true.

  • Klaus - 2012-11-23 13:54

    Watching DSTV - DW on Grape harvesting in Germany, they now have Grape harvesting machines, similar to elevated traktor, operated by one driver, even on fairly steep slopes - guess not suitable for table grapes

  • arie.vdplaats.3 - 2012-11-26 21:25

    Qp 26 November 2012 het minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson tydens `n uitsending op SABC TV beweer dat"Farm workers in the W-Cape are most oppressed". Ek het die betekenis van die woord"oppressed" in die Oxford Illustrated Dictionary opgesoek en besef dat Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson nie die vaagste benul het wat die woord beteken nie of anders het sy deur haar nek gepraat. Volgens die Oxford Illustrated Dictionary is "Oppressed" minstens eenn van die volgende: "to govern TYRANICALLY" "To keeo under by COERCION" "To subject to CONTINUAL CRUELTY or INJUSTICE" Ek kan met die beste wil op aarde nie insien hoedat die toestand in die W-Kaap voldoen aan daardie beskrywings nie. Minister Tina Joematt-Pettersson behoort aangekla te word van aanhitsing by implikasie, want haar ongegronde stelling jaag net die gemoedere van die plaaswerkers ondig op hol.

  • hugo.mcdonald.7 - 2012-12-06 13:04

    Does anyone know what the salaries are of farm workers that are in other provinces? I haven't heard anyone make the comparison yet to explain why only the WC farm workers are striking....

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