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Agricultural sector starts process against minimum wage for farmworkers- South Africa

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Agricultural sector starts process against minimum wage for farmworkers

 

A group of roleplayers from the agricultural value chain gathered yesterday to discuss the minimum wage of farmworkers, effective 1 March 2021. The department of labour and employment pushed through the increase of 16% despite various agricultural industry inputs, which questioned the proposal’s sustainability and emphasised its implications.

“We received feedback from a wide range of farmers and other roleplayers in the value chain which indicates that they will be forced to make amendments to accommodate these changes,” says Mr Henry Geldenhuys, the president of TLU SA. “Unfortunately, most of them have decided to close all labour intensive divisions like growing vegetables to switch to more mechanised ways of producing food.”

The meeting agreed that the changes would mostly affect unschooled workers and lead to them falling into unemployment.

“None of the roleplayers wants workers to earn an unreasonable remuneration or to lose their jobs,” says Mr Geldenhuys. “We only want the government to realise that farmers cannot afford the increased wages. Any producer must see profitability as a priority to farm sustainably. When it affects profit, a farmer must make adjustments.

The meeting suggested that the minister for labour and employment, Mr Thulas Nxesi should give feedback on the input process and confirm if they considered any of the suggestions in making the final decision. The minister for agriculture, Ms Thoko Didiza, will be asked if she was part of the process and why she is not taking a stand for agriculture.

The roleplayers further suggested legal recourse and political and public pressure to prevent the increase from being implemented.

The attendees agreed that the process needs the cooperation of all roleplayers in the value chain to protect agriculture’s sustainability. The group decided the following:

Agriculture will declare a dispute with the minister of labour and employment regarding the irrational announcement. In this regard they will ask the minister – during an official meeting – to put the minimum wage on ice until the dispute can be settled;
The Freedomfront Plus will officially discuss the matter in parliament with both the ministers of labour and agriculture;
The LWO Employers organisation will create a guiding document to highlight the available legal remedies;
To initiate the legal process to test the irrational action in the court; and
The agricultural industry will increase public pressure and encourage as many roleplayers to support the matter, financially or otherwise. In this regard, the group will create petitions in support of the affected workers.
TLU SA, the Freedomfront Plus, LWO Employers Organisation and other roleplayers in agriculture support this press release and the decisions contained in it.

GESAMENTLIKE MEDIAVERKLARING: Landboubedryf begin proses teen minimumloon vir plaaswerkers
 

 ‘n Groepering rolspelers uit die landbou-waardeketting het vandag indringend samesprekings gevoer oor die minimumloon vir plaaswerkers wat op 1 Maart 2021 in werking tree. Ten spyte van verskeie insette uit die landboubedryf wat teen die volhoubaarheid van die voorstel kapsie gemaak en ook die implikasie daarvan bespreek het, is die verhoging van 16% steeds deurgevoer.

“Ons het wye terugvoer ontvang van landbouers en ander rolspelers in die waardeketting wat aandui dat hulle noodgedwonge aanpassings oorweeg om hierdie verhoging te akkommodeer,” sê mnr. Henry Geldenhuys, die president van TLU SA. “Ongelukkig is die algemene gevoel dat arbeidsintensiewe vertakkinge soos groenteverbouing beëindig word en daar na bedrywe oorgeskakel word waar meganisasie ingespan word om voedsel te produseer.”

Die vergadering is dit eens dat dit meestal ongeskoolde werkers is wat deur hierdie aanpassing geraak sal word en waarskynlik in werkloosheid sal verval.

“Geen van die rolspelers wil hê dat werkers teen onbillike vergoeding moet werk of afgedank moet word nie,” sê mnr. Geldenhuys. “Ons wil bloot hê dat die regering besef dat landbouers eenvoudig nie hierdie verhoogde loon kan bekostig nie. Enige produsent moet winsgewendheid as prioriteit beskou om volhoubaar te kan boer. As wins geraak word, moet die landbouer noodwendig aanpassings maak.

Vanuit die vergadering is voorstelle gemaak dat die minister van arbeid en indiensneming, mnr. Thulas Nxexi gevra word om amptelik terugvoer te gee oor die proses van kommentaar en of enige insette in ag geneem is in die besluit. Die minister van landbou, me. Thoko Didiza sal ook gevra word hoe sy in die proses geken is en waarom sy nie vir landbou in die bresse tree nie.

Die rolspelers het verder voorgestel dat regsaksie beslis oorweeg word en politieke en openbare druk uitgeoefen word om die verhoging om te keer.

Die vergadering het saamgestem dat samewerking vanuit al die sfere van landbou benodig word om die volhoubaarheid van landbou te beskerm. Daarom het die vergadering die volgende besluit:

‘n Dispuut sal verklaar word met die minister van arbeid en indiensneming aangaande hierdie irrasionele aankondiging. In die verband sal daar in ‘n vergadering met die minister gevra word dat die minimum loon op die ys geplaas word totdat die dispuut bygelê is;
Die VF Plus sal die aangeleentheid amptelik binne die parlement met beide die ministers van arbeid en landbou aanspreek;
Die LWO Werkgewersorganisasie sal ‘n riglyn saamstel om die remedies wat binne die wet tot beskikking is, uit te lig; 
Dat ‘n regsproses geïnisieer word ten einde die irrasionele optrede van hierdie aankondiging in die hof te gaan toets;
Die landboubedryf sal openbare druk opbou en soveel as moontlik rolspelers aanmoedig om die saak te ondersteun, hetsy finansieel of op ander wyses. In die verband sal die nodige petisies opgestel word waarby benadeelde werkers ook betrek word.
Die verklaring en besluite word deur TLU SA, die VF Plus, LWO Werkgewersorganisasie en ander rolspelers in landbou ondersteun. 

 


 


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