14 November 2012

South Africa: Minimum Wage Review On the Cards for Farmworkers

Pretoria — Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has taken a decision to look at a possible review of the sectoral determination for farmworkers, which currently stands at a minimum of R70 a day.

Oliphant will next week publish a notice indicating the intention to call on all interested parties to comment on the possibility of reviewing the sectoral determination. The minister will, at the same time, publish a notice to cancel the existing sectoral determination.

"The sectoral determination sets out the minimum wages that people need to be paid in that specific sector. This does not mean that if the trading conditions allow it, workers should not be paid more than what is the minimum.

"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," Oliphant said.

To help advise Oliphant in this process, the Employment Conditions Commission is expected to meet next week Wednesday to further discuss the possible intervention in the farming sector.

The commission is set up under the auspices of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and is made up of representatives from business, labour and experts appointed by the minister.

In the farming sector, the last advice was received and published in February this year and it was applicable from 1 March 2012.

The minister has called on all parties 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 relooking at the sectoral determination - a process which may take a while to conclude.

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley have been protesting for a week over their wages. They are demanding a salary of R150 a day.

The officials from the Departments of Labour, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, unions as well as representatives of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration have been involved in efforts to find a solution.

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