Govt to review farmworkers' wages

2012-11-14 17:35

Johannesburg - The R70 a day minimum wage for farmworkers will be cancelled and renegotiated, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Wednesday.

Oliphant said she would publish a notice to cancel the current sectoral determination for agriculture after farmworkers in the Western Cape embarked on a protest demanding higher wages.

"The sectoral [determination] sets out the minimum wages that people need to be paid in that specific sector," she said in a statement.

"In the inspections that have been conducted, we have found that some farms paid more than the minimum and I believe that is the right thing to do."

Western Cape police have confirmed that a man was killed and five other people were injured during protests about wages in Wolseley on Wednesday morning.

Lieutenant General Andre Traut said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) would investigate.

"The man died as a result of police action, but we cannot give more details of the incident," he said.

"Reports of a farmer being killed by a mob of farmworkers in the province are not true. Those allegations are false."

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said an investigator was on his way to the scene where the protester was shot to get more details.

"I can confirm that one person was killed. However, we only have a report that three were injured. An investigator is on his way to gather more details."

Earlier, Democratic Alliance spokesperson Zak Mbhele said unconfirmed reports received by the party indicated that a farmer had been killed in the province.

"Another unconfirmed report is that a farmer was attacked by a mob of protesters and beaten to death. We have no further details at this stage."

Oliphant said she would publish a notice indicating the intent to call all interested parties to comment on the sectoral determination by next Friday.

"I would also like to call on all the parties that have been involved in the current negotiations in the farms in the Western Cape to intensify their effort to resolve the current impasse," she said.

"The negotiations and the resolution should be pursued over and above the other efforts like re-looking at the sectoral determination, which process may take a while to conclude."

The Employment Condition Commission would also meet Oliphant next Wednesday to discuss further intervention in the farming sector, the labour department said.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is expected to brief the media at 4.30pm in Cape Town on the updates in the farming sector wage dispute.

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley have been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding R150 a day.

Most earn between R69 and R75 a day, with R80 being the highest and only offer from farmers so far.

Protesters have been blocking roads and burning tyres across the province.

  • hitting.thefan - 2012-11-14 17:53

    I am gonna watch this story unfold with bated breadth!

      godfrey.welman - 2012-11-14 18:09

      With Tina as the driver, I hope you have good lungs. R70 to R150 is a big jump, further complicated by a mussle flexing Cosatu ahead of Mangaung

  • george.larkins.14 - 2012-11-14 17:56

    Just remind these workers AND the total workforce of South Africa,that they have to be PRODUCTIVE and EFFICIENT in their work..You can not pay a person MORE than what he deserves.A lot of these workers are not totally committed to their Employers.I can assure you if people were 100% productive,you could have done the same work by halve the workforce AND then you can afford to pay them DOUBLE.

  • richard.lemmer1 - 2012-11-14 17:58

    The farmers should stop selling their produce and put a price on it !!! What BS is this ???

  • jonivdw - 2012-11-14 18:11

    So I did a quick poll of the unemployed chaps sitting and begging for "peace" jobs at the robot! I asked them if offered the following would they accept: R70 per day (they were all looking for R50 for a days work), free accommodation, free electricity & water, paid leave and access to schools and clinics for their families... They all asked if they could be bused down to the WC immediately as they're desperate for jobs.... Slave labour me thinks not. There have been numerous witness accounts of "protestors" being bused in by the ANC and COSATU?? Very few of the protestors we're seeing in the press & on TV are actually farm labourers. These so called "protestors" have been intimidating farm workers and preventing them from returning to work.... How disgusting.....

      darrell.maclennan - 2012-11-15 10:20

      ...and it is for this very reason that some farmers I know of have mechanized their entire operation and kept on only operators, firing everyone else - too much BS.

  • asdhasgd - 2012-11-14 18:13

    HA! damn ANC wanted to turn it into a war now its going to be resolved (hopefully). Anyone who doesnt believe the ANC wasn't behind this is a fool.

  • mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-14 18:13

    It is reasonable to expect a sectoral wage increase. It is also reasonable to expect a shift away from labour-reliant farming as far as possible and that the remaining labour will be better skilled. Not a bad thing. Has to happen, I think and is a natural progression. It is also reasonable to expect the political thugs to be called off. Not sure that will happen, though.

  • riaan.barnard.737 - 2012-11-14 18:13

    Its not all about minimum wages. So the benifits they are getting do not count?

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-14 18:30

      absolutely. there is no way farm- benefits can be excluded from wages. They cost the farmer and the worker benefits. Wages must include anything where this cost/benefit applies. It is wrong to set minimum standards on farms and exclude any benefits below that Gvt imposed threshhold.

  • riaan.barnard.737 - 2012-11-14 18:14

    Its not all about minimum wages. So the benifits they are getting do not count?

  • riaan.barnard.737 - 2012-11-14 18:14

    Its not all about minimum wages. So the benifits they are getting do not count?

  • goeie.jaarling - 2012-11-14 18:19

    Demand and supply determines the price of everything including labor. 90% of our population does not have skills that is worth more than R70 per day and that is the problem. The bigger problem is that the 90% also do not have the potential to increase their marketable skills because they do not have the potential or capacity to do so. So we are in a situation where go for the socialist option where you "contribute tax according to your ability and you receive according to your needs". In short ..... South Africa is doomed to fail.

      Goboza Mashaba - 2012-11-14 18:28

      It is so hurting and disgrace to laugh at people dying to earn R150 a day. This is not even a living wage and if you consider the hard labour they are faced with on the farms! Hard farm work does not require skills but it must be rewarded.

      Hein Badenhorst - 2012-11-14 18:44

      @goeie.jaarling how do one live on R 1400 per month? Do you honestly believe that these workers are only worth R70 a day? Also how do these people skill themselves without having the resources (money) to do so? It's catch 22.

      ratsaka.eugene - 2012-11-14 18:46

      Let's test the demand and supply theory practically. Using pumpkins (very low demand). And you, Goie, as a farmer. Would you sell them below cost, just because their demand is terrible, or you'll consider all the available resources to sell them at low profits? Just a question.

      goeie.jaarling - 2012-11-14 19:50

      Hein, no I don't think they can live on R1400 a month and yes, unfortunately their skills are only worth R70 per day to the person that is paying them....In terms of skilling them, that is exactly my point they do not have the intellectual potential to be skilled, irrespective of the fact that they do not have the resources to do so....they are born to be manual laborers and that is out country's big tragedy. We need skilled resources but we do not have the human capital to develop skilled resources. Ratsaka, I am not sure I understand your question but firstly I wouldn't have planted pumpkins if the demand was very low. But if I am sitting with a lot of pumpkins of which the demand dropped after I planted them, I will most certainly sell them for the best price I can get, even below cost, just to recover some of my investment.

  • fafpetzer - 2012-11-14 18:19

    Why do I think the ANC is behind this?

  • PointBlank - 2012-11-14 18:20

    so convenient of the anc to appear to fix a 'major' crisis just after being pointed out for nkandla and mangaung. the anc are basically fluffing zuma who will appear to be in favour of scrapping minimum wages they themselves set so they can look good ahead of elections. ANC, we can read you like a book, too predictable.

      Goboza Mashaba - 2012-11-14 18:24

      You are a real comedian! You shud really consider stand up comic!

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-11-14 19:10

      Still perplexed considering it's the government who set the minimum wage in the 1st place. Not a murmur from the Unions every time it is set and yet now, shazambles.

      PointBlank - 2012-11-14 19:22

      thanks goboza, i certainly do have lots of material with the anc and their goons supplying in compious amounts...

  • adriaan.vlok - 2012-11-14 18:22

    "The R70 a day minimum wage for farmworkers will be cancelled and renegotiated, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Wednesday." So the government determined amount was wrong - again poor execution of your mandate, should someone not be held accountable for this?.... possibly wait for it.. someone in government??

  • trevor.bush.9655 - 2012-11-14 18:25

    If you think this is about wages then look again, this is pure politics in motion....Mines "gave in" to absolutely STUPID increases which will start a wave of violent strikes...yet see who the shareholders are in those mines....ANC big Strikes in the farming sector in the WC...surprise will be automotive....Inflation will now SKYROCKET so 2013 will be the worst in SA it happen.

  • fanie.essgee - 2012-11-14 18:34

    All of this is incited by the ANC, its youth League and the Government itself, all in order to make the Western Cape ungovernable, how utterly low and sad, the one province that is actually working and municipalities performing is being targeted by buffoons, I cannot even laugh as you are that stupid.... You are all going to die of hunger, and i will watch in silent delight, you are that stupid....

      luvo.luvos - 2012-11-14 18:53

      Get the dummy off your mouth and start thinking. The ANC have nothing to do with this, its just a small matter of the high cost of living whereby the peanuts they are being paid do not carry them too far into the mouth. Being white you don't have to go through this, thank God for that and count your blessings.

  • Riaan Venter - 2012-11-14 19:12

    If they get the increase deduct tax,uif and pension then they will crap their pants!!!!!

  • Riaan Venter - 2012-11-14 19:49

    @jacqui!mmm laat ek gou sommetjies maak water werk uit op R8.00 n dag,krag R23.00 n dag,huur R166 n dag dan is daar nog grondbelasting en vullisverwydering meeste van hulle kry dit als plus kos verniet op die plase so hoeveel kry hul dan eintlik tel bymekaar dan maak jy ook gou sommetjies dan kry jy verder skaam hoor!!!!!

  • justin.b.whittaker - 2012-11-14 19:55

    I agree riaan...they forget about all their freebies..we pay for their freebies!!

      Riaan Venter - 2012-11-14 20:00

      jip justi but they don't think about that and that they're cutting they're own throats

  • sefako.mokgalaka - 2012-11-14 21:34

    I get the feeling most comments from our white fellows are pro farmers and against farm workers. These farmers need these farm workers to do the work, nobody is doing anyone any favour. For many years the farm workers have provided their labour for almost free to these farmers. Most of them want to continue with this trend and unfortunately for them times have changed.

      william.hall.12979 - 2012-11-14 22:09

      ok then, roll with the times changing - remember you said no favours! First, the farmer starts paying R150 per day - doubling his wage costs. In order to remain profitable though, he has to cut costs or make money in new ways. So he closes the farm school, and kicks the workers out of the houses on the farm. The houses are converted into chalets and the school becomes a conference centre. So farmer makes ends meet again and will be ok. Where are the workers then? living in the local squatter camp with no electricity or running water, a leaking roof and only R150 a day to buy food for his family of 12, as well as paying taxi fare to get to the farm and his children hanging around with the local gangsters. So he is much worse off than before. Doubling input cost for any business will force drastic sometimes unforeseen changes - and the uneducated will always lose out. Rather hold the ANC accountable for decent education for all and the picture will correct itself over time. There are enough opportunities out there for anyone motivated enough to get as far as they can dream.

  • wikus.venter.756 - 2012-11-19 12:19

    R70 a day is not bad for someone with no skills when it includes food housing, electricity, water and schools for his WHOLE family which do nothing on the farm, except multiply.

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