Farmers not taking up labour department’s offer
The labour department said struggling farmers were not applying for a reprieve as offered by the department with regard to minimum wages.
“Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said farmers crippled by the new minimum wage had an option of being given a reprieve. So far no one has taken up the offer,” said spokesperson Musa Zondi.
It was reported today that hundreds of farm workers were losing their jobs in Limpopo.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farm workers on Monday – up from the current R69 a day. It would take effect on March 1.
Farmers who wanted a reprieve had to submit their books to the department to prove their financial distress.
Agricultural trade organisation Agri SA said the retrenchments were happening even before the new minimum wage for farm workers was announced.
Agri SA expected the retrenchments, said labour relations manager Elize van der Westhuizen.
“This has been happening before as struggling farmers restructure their operations, especially in labour-intensive farms in Limpopo,” she said.
Farmers were not applying for the reprieve offered by the department as it was “not practical”.
The farmer would have to submit financials for a previous year.
“Previous-year financials have nothing to do with the present year. The department also takes its time in responding to applications, to an extent that a farmer would already be in deep trouble by the time they respond.”
The situation was a blow to those farm workers left without an income, she said.