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Department of Labour to begin in earnest with Farm and Forestry Sectors public hearings to review wages

by lloyd last modified 2015-07-28 15:57

28 July 2015

The Department of Labour is to host a series of national public hearings to investigate the Farm and Forestry Sectors – doing this with the intention to review the sectors’ minimum wages and conditions of employment prescribed in the Sectoral Determination (SD) 13 for the Farm and Forestry Sector.

Sectoral Determination regulates wages, working hours and other basic conditions of employment for sectors deemed vulnerable. The Sectoral determination broadly deals with the protection of workers involved in farm and forestry activities.

Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant, has already signed notices that have thus been published in the government gazette in terms of section 52 (3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act on the 24th February 2015, in order to commence with this investigation and to invite all stakeholders in the sectors to submit their written representation regarding this investigation.

The Department of Labour will hold public hearings across the country in order to give both employers and employees in the sectors more time to submit their inputs regarding:

·          Setting the new minimum wages for the Farm and Forestry sectors; and

·          Any other working conditions related to the operations within the sectors.

The minimum wage for Farm/Forestry workers announced by the department in January for the period 01 March 2015 to 29 February 2016 is as follows: a minimum wage of R2 606.78 per month (2014/2015: R2 420.41); a weekly minimum wage of R601.61(2014/2015: R558,60); a daily rate of R120.32 (2014/2015: R111,72) and an hourly rate of R13.37 (2014/2015: R12,41)

Sectoral Determination in the forestry sector includes: commercial timber growers; emergent timber growers; contractors where

the majority of time is spent in forestry activities; all transportation within the Forestry Sector; a domestic worker employed in a home on a plantation; a security guard employed to guard a plantation who is not employed by a private security company.

The reason the two Sectors’ investigations are held simultaneous is because in April 2012, the Minister published a notice in Government Gazette announcing the increase of the Forestry minimum wages to be in line with the Farm worker sector minimum wages.

The alignment in the minimum wages was informed by the fact that most employers who conduct forestry activities are also doing farming activities which results into mix farming. The Employment Conditions commission (ECC), the body that advices the Minister on Employment Standards and matters around Sectoral Determination, was of the view that a separation in the minimum wages in these sectors could result in potential abuse.

The ECC in its recommendations also considered the intensity of the Forestry sector activities as compared to the work in the agricultural sector.

In April 2014, the minimum wages were completely aligned to the farm workers’ wages, however the ECC proposed a further increase of 11 months, in order for the duration of the SD to run concurrently with the duration of the Farm sector.

The roadshows will start on 4 August 2015 in Zeerust, North West and Meyerton, Gauteng. The public hearings will be held at two various times, one starting at 9am and 13:00 with both employers and employees attending their respective sessions. The Farm and Forestry sectors roadshows will end in Bethlehem in the Free State on September 11. – ENDS

Issued by: Mokgadi Pela

Acting Departmental Spokesman

082 808 2168


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