TLU SA is shocked and disappointed that the government will implement the National Minimum Wage for farmworkers from 1 March 2021. The mInister for Employment and Labour, Mr Thulas Nxesi last announced an increase of 16% to R21,69 per hour of the minimum wage of farmworkers in the Government Gazette.

In December 2020 TLU SA commented against implementing an increased minimum wage and suggested the government should completely set aside the minimum wage until the economy and employment rates pick up. Various other roleplayers also commented against the amendment.

“It seems that the National Minimum Wage Commission paid no heed to any of the comment from the agricultural sector,” says Mr Henry Geldenhuys, the president of TLU SA. “The ability of employers – farmers – to absorb these levels of remuneration, is impossible. We shudder when thinking of the consequences of unemployment in South Africa when the government implements the increased hourly rate.”

TLU SA does not buy the argument that an increased minimum wage will put workers in a better position. When comparing the salaries of the Expanded Public Works Program and that of the private sector, the government’s hypocrisy is blatant. The state pays half of what other sectors pay.

“If the government cared about workers and unemployment they would have adjusted their approach to labour,” says Mr Geldenhuys. “If someone chooses to work for R100 a day as an income, rather than receiving a grant of R40 a day, it should be their choice. More than ever before, what the country needs now is increased employment, resulting in counter-poverty outcomes.

“The agricultural sector – and all other private industries – should rather be supported by the government to create sustainable employment opportunities.”

TLU SA wants to warn consumers that the government’s more expensive labour wages will only lead to an increase in food prices.