Farmworkers' wage increase to come into effect on Friday

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pretoria - The long-awaited wage increase for farmworkers will come into effect on Friday, 1 March.

The new salary, which is pegged at R105 a day -- up from R69 -- was announced by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant earlier this month.

"I would like to announce ... the new level of the minimum wage for 1 March 2013 to 28 February 2014 be pegged at R105 per day for employees who work nine hours a day or R11.66 per hour, R525 weekly or R2 274.82 per month," said the minister at the time.

The new sectoral determination will be promulgated for a three-year period. During year two and three, wages will be increased by CPI (Quintile 1) plus 1.5%.

The increase followed a wave of violent strikes by farmworkers in the Western Cape and other parts of the country.  The Labour Department last year and earlier this year held extensive national public hearings on the matter.

Although some farmers have pointed out that they will not be able to afford the new minimum wage, Oliphant has encouraged them to apply for exclusion before 1 March 2013.

Section 50 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act makes provision for the minister to replace or exclude any basic condition of employment provided for in the Act.

Farmers that require exclusion would have to submit a number of documents in relation to proof of any consent to the application by the registered trade union(s), a letter of approval with the names and signatures of employees whom the determination is to apply.

In addition, the concerned farmer(s) would have to provide reasons for not being able to comply with the prescribed conditions, furnish a list of employees with their current wages (register) that must accompany any request for variation on wages, and a project plan, amongst others.

Applications for variation on the prescribed minimum wages must be forwarded to: The Executive Manager, Employment Standards, Private Bag X117, Pretoria 0001. –