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Invest in your workers - Minister urges farmers

by lloyd last modified 2008-09-30 17:20

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana urged farmers to invest in their workers for their own survival.

Released by Department of Labour on 14 April 2008

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana urged farmers to invest in their workers for their own survival.  The Minister made the remarks on the first day of his Imbizo in the Western Cape today (Mon) where he visited Voorentoe Farm in Porterville.


 “It is important for employers to value their workers and not to treat them as tools, but with dignity for their own good”, the Minister said after leading an inspection on occupational health and safety compliance.   Voorentoe farm grows and exports grapes, citrus fruit, wine grapes, and figs to local and international markets.  It has a total of 144 workers with 125 of them being seasonal workers.


The farm was on the brink of bankruptcy for three years since 2004.  This was partly due to strong currency exchange rate and was saved by the intervention of the National Productivity Institute in 2007.   


The Minister praised the owner, Kosie van Niekerk for “making use of government resources to save hundreds of jobs from retrenchment.”                                                                                    


“This is a good model to be emulated by others.  Farming is a complex and complicated business, one needs to tread carefully.” said the Minister.  He further called upon other farmers who are battling to keep their enterprises going, to make use of available state resources to save them, and thereby save jobs.


The Minister later addressed a community meeting in Potterville.  He reiterated his contention on labour brokers that they be registered and subjected to taxation.  “All our research points to a need for a legislation to regulate the labour brokers.”


He added that the Department of Labour’s National Jobs Database that’s currently being piloted at selected labour centres, will save employers hugely as this will include the screening of workers.


The Minister’s Imbizo campaign is a forerunner to a calendar that will culminate to the Occupational Health and Safety day in Port Elizabeth on May 09.


The Minister will tomorrow (Tues) proceed to George where he will visit the Sawmill Timber factory before addressing the community at a nearby Thembalethu location. Sawmill Timber has a staff complement of 708.  He will also visit a garment assembly plant sponsored by the department, but initiated by Trade Link Textile Services.   600 people will be employed on completion of the training programme that is currently underway.

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