Major agriculture bodies in South Africa are concerned about the new R21,69/hour national minimum wage for farmworkers, which will come into effect on 1 March.
TAU SA’s president, Henry Geldenhuys, issued a statement saying that the Department of Labour and Employment (DLE) had “pushed through” the 16% increase despite various stakeholders in the agriculture sector having submitted motivations for why the new rate for farmworkers should not be equal to the minimum wage for all other business sectors.
“None of the role players wants workers to earn an unreasonable remuneration or to lose their jobs. We only want government to realise that farmers cannot afford the wage increases. We received feedback from a wide range of farmers and other role players in the [agriculture] value chain [to] indicate that they will be forced to make amendments to accommodate these changes. Unfortunately, most of them have decided to close all labour-intensive divisions, like growing vegetables, to switch to more mechanised ways of producing food.”
He added that TAU SA would be declaring a dispute with DLE minister, Thembelani Nxesi, regarding the “irrational” increase and Nxesi would be asked to place the increase on hold until the dispute was settled.
Farmer’s Weekly reported recently that Agri SA’s executive director, Christo van der Rheede, said the immediate increase in wages for farmworkers would be unsustainable for South Africa’s agriculture sector.
[ R1 = € 0,057 ]
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