COSATU condemns the action of bad farmers who are now threatening to dismiss workers en masse. This is nothing more than a political action by the farmers, who are unhappy about the fact that their days of Baasskap are over. They also feel they are less able to control every aspect of the farm workers lives, when the farm workers earn a decent wage. This dismissal threat is nothing more than an effort to spite workers and the Government, and to try and turn an important step towards undoing the Apartheid legacy around. This is a declaration of war against justice and fairness on farms; this is an act of hostility against the workers and the Government.
Should farmers have legitimate problems of paying the new wages then they should apply for an exemption, as the law prescribes and the Minister advised. None of the farmers who are now threatening dismissals have applied for an exemption. So this confirms that it is just an attempt to undermine the move to decent wages. Agri SA had through the Business constituency made an offer of R94 a day for labour at the Employment Conditions Commission, so clearly they had the ability to pay more. These steps on the part of bad farmers are just an attempt to try and secure the apartheid generational advantage, which is going to be undone, with greater fairness.
COSATU calls on workers to oppose these dismissals and continue production on the farms, and to call on Government to pay out these bad farmers who are promoting dismissals, when Government takes their land. This land must then be distributed amongst good farmers and good workers to build a new partnership for Agriculture.
There are clearly a number of bad farmers, advised by Agri SA who wants to continue the historical hostility, between farmers and farm workers. We caution them and advise that an Injury to one is an injury to all, and we will as COSATU use everything at our disposal to defend workers. This year the issue of land reform must be addressed and the farmers would do better to cooperate with change, than to try and continue with their apartheid style attitude against workers.