23 November 2012

South Africa: Govt to Conduct Public Hearings in Farming Sector

Pretoria — The Department of Labour will tomorrow host two separate public hearings designed to come up with a solution on the violent strikes in the farming sector triggered by the demand for higher wages.

The double-header on Saturday will kick-off at 10am with employers and another session at 1pm meant for employees at the local hall of Boston Area in KwaZulu-Natal.

The national hearings, designed to quell the violent strikes in the farming sector kicked-off on Thursday in Worcester in the Western Cape.

After a brief pause, the public hearings will resume again on December 6 at 10am in Makhado Municipal Showground in Limpopo for both employers and employees.

On December 8, the hearings will be held at 10am for both employers and employees at Bothaville, at a venue which is yet to be confirmed in the Free State Province.

The hearings will then trek to Ottodsdal in the North West on December 9, to be held at 10am for both employers and employees at a venue yet-to-be-confirmed.

On December 11 a joint public hearing for both the employer and employees will be held at 6pm at Keimoes City Hall in the Northern Cape.

On December 12, another joint hearing for both employers and employees will be held in KwaMhlushwa, Mpumalanga at a venue to be announced.

The hearings will conclude on December 13 at 6pm in both Barkley East Town Hall in the Eastern Cape and at Bronkhorstspruit, respectively, at a yet-to-be confirmed venue in Gauteng.

Titus Mtsweni, acting director of labour standards, said input from the hearings would shape the nature and form of wages and other conditions of employment in the sector over the next 12 months.

Strikes in the farming sector started in the Western Cape on a farm near De Doorns in August, when a group of workers walked off the job, demanding better wages. The protests then spread to other areas.

The farmworkers said they had suspended the strike until December 4 to allow government "to implement their demands.

Last week, Friday acting Minister of Labour, Angie Motshekga, published a notice declaring the start of an "investigation into minimum wages and conditions of employment in the farming sector, with a view to establish a sectoral determination.

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