The Star Late Edition
Blame our inept government, not farmers
KENNETH Mokgatlhe’s “Comment” (The Star, May 10), “Workers on farms exploited”, needs a response.
First, every farmworker has the right to associate themselves with any organisation that they feel will serve their interest. The Bill of Rights includes the rights of all workers. Thus they can form or join any trade union of their choice.
Farmworkers have a number of entities they can turn to if they feel exploited – the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the CCMA, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Legal Resources Centre, Women on Farms etc.
There is also a Farm Workers Sector that deals with minimum wages, hours of work etc.
No one under the age of 15 is allowed to work. Parents are expected to enforce this regulation.
Every employer is compelled to register his/her business with the UIF. It also compels employers to register every employee who works for 24 hours or more a month.
Employers have to deduct 2% from their pay every month for UIF. Has Kenneth got documented proof that all farmers are not doing this? The same question applies to “seasonal workers” being paid “peanuts”.
How many farms has Kenneth visited to substantiate his comment? Can he give absolute proof of the exploitation he mentions? If so, why has he not reported it to the authorities?
The Department of Labour has apparently got inspectors who have to fulfil an “intense programme of farm inspections” to counter these allegations.
Why are they not doing their job? Is the SAHRC providing farmworkers with information on their rights?
Farmworkers actually complain about the poor service at labour centres and the reluctance of officials to help.
It is not so much the farmers (most certainly not all of them) exploiting their workers, but the lax, negligent and incompetent government not doing what they’re supposed to be doing – enforcing the law.