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New minimum wage for farmworkers

The new minimum wage for farmworkers for the next three years has been pegged at R105 per day, the Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant announced in Pretoria on Monday.The new wage determination will be effective from 1 March 2013.

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The announcement follows violent strikes by farmworkers, especially in the Western Cape, since November last year. Farmworkers had demanded R150 per day as a minimum wage.

The minister urged organised business and labour in the sector to come together to find ways of improving labour relations in their sector.

“It is time to begin working together towards a vision for the farming sector, one in which the sector expands and creates jobs and where there are better relations between farmers and farmworkers and their organisations.”

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However, the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) said the wage increase would jeopardise labour relations, cause a reduction in the agriculture sector work force, and create a “climate for inflation” that would impact on consumers.

In a statement, the TAU added that increase was the result of “undue pressure and intimidation by seasonal workers”, adding that this created “a precedent for future actions in other sectors”.

Sejamothopo Motau, the DA Shadow Minister of Labour said that the DA hopes that the determination puts an end to the disruptive farm strikes that have torn at the fabric of South Africa’s rural heartland in the past few months.

“We trust that Minister Oliphant and the various negotiating parties, including Cosatu, have factored in the potential job losses in the sector and that government will be putting measures in place to mitigate against this”, said Motau.

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