Department of Labour gears itself to enforce farm workers minimum wage determination as implementation date looms

The long-awaited raise in the minimum wage for farm workers following the recent wave of violent strikes by farm workers will come into effect on Friday (1 March 2013).

After extensive national public hearings by Department of Labour (DoL) that started last year ending in January 2013, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced on February 4, that the new salary will be pegged at R105 a day from R69. Oliphant announced that the wages would rise by inflation plus 1.5% in subsequent years.

This determination followed a recommendation by the Employment Conditions Commission (ECC), a body that advises the Minister on: the making of sectoral determinations; matters concerning basic conditions of employment; child labour issues; matters arising out of the application of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA); collective bargaining trends and whether any of them undermine the purpose of BCEA; and the effect of government policies on employment.  

In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act the Department of Labour is empowered to enforce the determination. Labour inspectors as part of their duties would be expected during their inspections to ensure that the law of the land is upheld.

Although some farmers had pointed out that they would not be able to afford the new minimum wage determination, Oliphant encouraged them to apply for exclusion before 1 March 2013. Section 50 of the BCEA 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 names and signatures of employees whom the determination is to apply.

In addition, the concerned establishment will have to provide reasons for not being able to comply with 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.

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




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