Emerging farmers won't be able to afford new wages - TAU SA
Minimum Wages will harm the country
The country was done no favour by the Minister of Labour by announcing the new minimum wages for farm workers.
Firstly, it is the result of undue pressure and intimidation by seasonal workers, and this creates a precedent for future actions in other sectors. Good labour relations will consequently be jeopardized by this.
Secondly, small and emerging farmers in particular certainly cannot afford these wages. Even concerns in certain industries will not be able to pay these wages (such as dairy farmers who constantly get less for their milk, or wine farmers who receive a mere 54 cents profit per bottle). They will have no other choice but to reduce their workforce for the sake of financial survival. This means that the government is frustrating its own goals of job creation.
Thirdly, government is aiding the creation of a climate for inflation, by approving several increases which will ultimately have a negative effect on consumers: higher minimum wages, higher electricity prices and higher fuel prices are just some examples.
"It is crystal clear that organized agriculture once again had been used as a rubber stamp to give legitimacy to processes," said TAU SA president, Mr. Louis Meintjes. "The motivated proposal of R80 per day, which was collectively submitted by organized agriculture, was totally ignored. Demands which TAU SA addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, regarding prices of produce for farmers and other questions were met with silence.
Ostensibly nobody listens to the needs of the agricultural sector. Has South Africa reached a position which requires one to resort to violence before being heard?" Mr. Meintjes asked. "Agriculture could perhaps afford the increased wages if farmers suffered less losses to breakages to vehicles when the potholes would have been repaired; if they received better prices for their products; if they had access to unpolluted water so that they could export their products; and if electricity rates increased within limits," said Mr Meintjes.
Mr. Meintjes warned that further unrest could loom if farmers were only to implement wage increases to workers on the minimum wage level. "Other workers will be most unhappy if their fellow workers received a substantive salary increase which died not apply to those already receiving wages in excess of the minimum wage. Farmers will therefore have to implement an increase applicable to all pay scales which makes the situation much more difficult. With such increases, farmers will have no option but to invest in mechanization, which will minimize the impact of further increases and labour unrest," said Mr Meintjes.
Statement issued by TAU SA president, Mr. Louis Meintjes, February 4 2013
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