South Africa: New plan for farm workers

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture last week announced a thirteen point plan to improve farm workers' conditions.

Many of the people who took part in the recent riots were not full-time workers, but job seekers or seasonal workers, it emerged.

Asked how the plan will affect these people's problems, Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, said the plan's actions, such as the toll-free telephone line, can be used by any member of the community.

He also said unemployment is not a problem which be solved by his department alone.

Joyene Isaacs, head of department, said they have to start somewhere, because it is a complex situation.

The plan includes:

• A farm worker survey must solve the problem of the lack of reliable information on the number of farm workers in the province and their living conditions.

• Case studies on best practices of successful interaction between farm workers and farmers will be documented and distributed to stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

• A Youth Empowerment Program where students can get internships.

• Promotion of ethical trade.

• Conversations between farm workers, farmers and the Western Cape cabinet.

• A communication plan to share progress and to convey certain messages.

• A toll-free telephone number for complaints.

• Training on mechanization

• Improved housing for farm workers.

• Farm worker organizations. These structures should not compete with unions.

• Sports programs.

These steps can not all be taken at the same time and Van Rensburg said he was concerned about the possibility that unrest could flare up again.

"It is not good for the Western Cape economy. There are better ways to solve your problems."

• The DA will have to dig deeper into the involvement of Minister of Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersson's in the unrest.

Source: The Burger

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