Government grants wage increase

Monday, 4 February, 2013
As of today, Mildred Oliphant, the Minister of Labour has declared a minimum daily wage of R105 for farm workers working 9 hours per day.
The increase comes after long discussion and turbulent strike action that saw vineyards under attack and many warehouses burnt. The outcry was against the minimum wage of R69 which farm workers and unions called a 'slave wage'.

This announcement by Oliphant was made at a press meeting in Pretoria this afternoon and the new minimum wage is said to take effect on the first day of next month.

"The relationship between farmers and farm workers is difficult and needs to be far better to achieve agricultural expansion, higher employment and better living conditions" said the Minister.

Oliphants also added that for those farmers who can't afford to pay the new R105 minimum daily wage, they can apply for exemption with financial statements as proof.

But whilst initially this seems like a positive, many believe it has cast a dark shadow over an already tumultuous industry. Speaking with Moneyweb, Johannes Möller, Agri SA chairperson, strongly believes that the increase of 52% is unaffordable. “There simply isn’t R7bn to add onto the wage bill for one year. This is good for no one – not for the farmers, not for the workers and not for South Africa,” he said.

Forcing farmers to pay more wages will eventually lead to them laying off staff as the costs become too great to bear. The wine industry is a struggling market and further blows could inevitably lead to many a winery failing. This is echoed by Christopher Rawbone of Oak Valley Wines tweeting that "Rural min wage increased by 52% to R105 p/day. There go a lot of marginal farmers, further job losses and an increase in prices on the shelf."

Brothers Rob and Chris Boustred from Remhoogte Estate believe that the wage is fair but unfortunately, the way in which it was achieved sets a precedent for future negotiations that may arise.

Evidently, the reaction is a mixed one and it remains to be seen whether this will be fortuitous.

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Minimum wage increased
Minimum wage increased

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