16 January 2013

South Africa: Clanwilliam Wage Bill to Be Tested At Public Hearing

Photo: Wikipedia
Vineyard in South Africa's Western Cape

Pretoria — The Clanwilliam wage bill struck between farmworkers and farmers will be put to the test at a public hearing today hosted by the Department of Labour in De Doorns - the hot spot of strikers' violence.

The agreement, which was announced by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the department in Cape Town on Tuesday, could see workers accepting a minimum wage of R105 a day from the previous wage of R69, if accepted by the farmers body, AgriSA.

Department Director General, Nkosinathi Nhleko, said the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) would use the Clanwilliam model during negotiations elsewhere.

Farmworkers in areas like De Doorns, Wolseley and Grabouw have demanded a daily wage hike of R150 per day.

Tonight's meeting, which starts at 6pm at the Multi-Purpose Centre, is the third in a series following a request to the department by unions for the voice of workers to be heard.

Following last November's farmworkers' industrial action, the Department of Labour entered into a national, month-long farmworkers minimum wage review. The public hearings are intended to quell violent strikes in the farming sector.

The process included visits to all nine provinces.

Titus Mtsweni, department's Acting Director: Labour Standards, said the process of developing a report on the outcome of the public hearings that were held last year was already underway, but felt that "it will not be appropriate to have a report without direct input from the area(s) mostly affected by the industrial action".

The remaining public hearings will be held as follows:

- on 17 January at Robertson, Barrydale, Ashton, McGregor and Swellendam ( Robertson Community Hall- Hospital Avenue)

- on the 18th at Outshoorn, Ladismith, Zoar and Beaufort West (CVJ NG Kerk- Opposite Spar in Church Street)

- and on the 20th at Vredendal and Citrusdal (Vredendaal Thusong Centre)

Mtsweni expects the departmental report on the inputs collated during the public hearings to be forwarded to the Employment Conditions Commission (ECC) in time ahead of its meeting at the end of this month.

The report will dwell on issues of the minimum wage, status of the sector, process issues, consideration of different submissions by stakeholders and recommendations by the department.

He said once ECC has met and deliberated it would make recommendations to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on the new minimum wage for farmworkers.

Mtsweni said as things stand the minister was expected to make an announcement on the new wage determination/sectoral determination (SD) in February, and this will be implemented from 1 March 2013.

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