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DoL and Portfolio Committee to visit Western Cape Farms

by lloyd last modified 2012-01-20 18:43

23 January 2012

Chairman of Portfolio Committee on Labour Eleck Nchabeleng and advisor to Labour Minister, Herbert Mkhize are to lead a delegation composed of the Committee members, officials and inspectors from the Department of Labour this week to undertake an oversight visit to Western Cape Farms.

The visit will kick-off tomorrow (January 24) and ends on 27 January. The oversight visit has been prompted by the recent report of the Human Rights Watch titled “Ripe with Abuse” Human Rights Conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Industries and information provided by Fawu to the Committee. In terms of the above-mentioned organisations it was discovered that many farm workers:

·          Work without access to water or toilets;

·          Were exposed to toxic pesticides and work without the proper safety equipment;

·          Earn among the lowest wages in South Africa;

·          Were denied the right to form and join union.

The Human Rights Watch had also found that former farm workers, routinely confront substandard housing conditions, and that evictions from farms are commonplace.

The report was based on research conducted between September 2010 and May 2011,

including field visits to the farms. The Human Rights Watch interviewed over 260 people for its report which included former farm workers, farm dwellers, farm owners or farmers’ association

representatives, trade union representatives; labor brokers; civil society members; legal services providers; representatives from the fruit, wine, and alcohol industries; and academics among others.

Because farming was an arena that straddles a number of ministries, the report made a number of recommendations specifically to the Department of Labour:  

·          Take immediate action to enforce compliance with existing labour and health protections, including filling all labour inspector vacancies and ensuring that labour inspectors always speak with workers when conducting inspections.

·          Rigorously enforce the rights of foreign and other migrant farmworkers to benefits to which they are entitled.

·          Revise the Protocol for Access to Farms, which was agreed upon by the Department, Agri SA, and others, to ensure that labor inspectors will not set up advance appointments with farm owners.   

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