16 November 2012

South Africa: Wheels Set in Motion for Farmworkers' Wage Review

Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA
Protesters demonstrate for better wages on Thursday, 15 November 2012 during widespread unrest among farmworkers in the Western Cape.

Pretoria — The Department of Labour has issued a notice indicating its intention to call on all interested parties to comment on the possibility to review the minimum wage for farmworkers.

This is in line with the announcement made by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant earlier this week to publish a notice indicating the intention to call on all interested parties to comment on the possibility of reviewing the sectoral determination for farmworkers.

The sectoral determination prescribes minimum wages and conditions of employment for workers in vulnerable sectors like farming and domestic work.

The minister has further called a meeting of the Commission for Conditions of Employment for Wednesday next week to advise her on a way forward regarding this matter.

"This process has been given a stamp of approval by all the interested parties including Cosatu, Agri-SA and the farmers unions.

"Today the department met with Agri-SA, who promised their full co-operation and agreed to participate meaningfully in negotiations. Likewise, the department also met all the other farmers unions today who also pledged their full co-operation," said the ministry in a statement.

Negotiations are expected to start next week Thursday, with eight negotiators representing employers and an equal number representing workers.

The talks will be mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, an independent agency that falls under the Department of Labour.

"I would like to urge all the parties to go into these talks with openness and willingness to bring to a close the recent events that has been threatening to engulf our country and put it on a dangerous course regarding food security.

"Most of the representatives have shown that they are interested in putting the needs of the country first instead of their narrow interests and I would like to commend them," said the minister.

The department is also planning to address the workers in the Worcester or De Doorns area as a report back on the actions that are being undertaken to deal with their concerns.

Farm owners in the area will also be given their opportunity to have their say when the department sends representatives to address them towards the end of next week.

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