7 February 2013

South Africa: Knee-Jerk Reaction and Vicious Backlash By Farm Owners On New Minimum Farm Wages

Job losses are up, but not in the industries one would expect. Statistics SA has released the figures for the last quarter of 2012. Strike-hit ... ( Resource: Statistics SA releases Job Losses Figures in South Africa )

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is concerned that, as expected, some farm owners will see it fit to make a knee-jerk reaction to the new minimums by unduly retrenching workers or, even worse by some farmers, by engaging in vicious backlash of victimization in various forms but notable are unfair dismissals, illegal eviction and illegitimate deportation.

FAWU wants to remind farm owners that South Africans cannot approve such conduct by some of them almost 20 years later since freedom and democracy, with the land still in the hands of largely white people, and 100 years later since the institutionalized (1913 Land Act) takeover of the already inadequate land from black people and creation of black farm workers, and 360 years later since violent occupation of land by settlers from indigenous people.

FAWU still calls for farm owners to be sensitive and to be reasonable when it comes to the plight of farm workers and farm dwellers and the landless and disposed majority. It is unacceptable for farm owners to behave as if there was no 1994 and there is a need for faster delivery of progress in addressing the plight of farm workers and dwellers and the landless in the next few years, 20 years later.

We still hope that those farm owners who are truly experiencing cash-flow challenges will take advantage of the call by the Minister of Labour to ask for a reprieve based on financial information provided. Equally, we wish to caution the Minister to deal with such information from a forensic approach as some complicated structure is used on the balance sheet of farms and this may even influence or affect the cash-flow picture.

Meanwhile, FAWU will seek to engage those farm owners earmarking retrenchment and hopefully reaching understanding. If no agreement is unduly reached or where there is no union in a farm but victimisation, we will immediately coordinate local consumer boycott and international retailer boycott. FAWU reserves its rights.

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