AFFORDABILITY OF LABOUR A MAJOR CONCERN
SAPTU takes note of the amendment of the National Minimum Wage to R21,69 per hour for farmworkers. In February, the minister for employment and labour, Mr Thulas Nxesi, announced an increase of 16% on the hourly rate in the Government Gazette.
With members in the agricultural sector, SAPTU welcomes a measure of fair remuneration for farmworkers. Still, employers’ ability in this sector to sustain the increase must, however, be considered.
“The affordability of labour will become a major consideration within those enterprises where profitability and sustainability are under pressure,” says Adv Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU (South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union). “In this regard, the unique composition of each farming entity will play a determining role in deciding to what extent the current employment levels will demand adjustment.
“Whilst it is accepted that some farm employers will be in a financial position to implement the increased National Minimum Wage, this might not be the case across the board. Inevitably, this could lead to farmers in deciding to leave the sector or to reduce the levels of employment drastically.”
SAPTU feels that the current unemployment figure should indicate that implementing an increase in the minimum wage within the current economic situation will not improve the existing deplorable situation.
Labour is one of the most critical production factors and plays a vital role in growing the economy. Agriculture is an essential role-player in creating employment, as well as the sustainable economic situation of small local businesses depending on the agricultural sector,” Adv Van der Walt concludes.