Farmers failing to keep up with the new wage agreement

About 900 farmers have asked the labour department to be exempted from paying their workers the new minimum wage of R105/day, Minister Mildred Oliphant said according to the South African Press Association.

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Oliphant said about 10% of farmers who applied for exemption had failed to provide the department with the required documentation to back up their applications. "In terms of the applications we have received for the exemption, it is about 900 applicants, and in terms of those applications 10% have no supportive documents," she told a media briefing in Cape Town.

"We have sent them back to the employers to say we need more information." Oliphant said the applicants represented less than 1% of the South African farming community. "What should be clear is that these 900 applications are out of plus minus 100 000 farmers in this country." She said she doubted that the new minimum wage would result in "massive" job losses in the agriculture sector. The new sectoral determination increasing the minimum wage for farm labourers from R65/day to R105/day came into force on March 1. This was also the closing date for applications from farmers for exemptions.