Western Cape executive manager Teboho Thejane said of the 226 farms visited, only 103 complied. “Despite this being an improvement compared to last year’s figure, a lot of work still needs to be done,” he said. “Contraventions include non-adherence to minimum wage as stipulated by law. Another contravention was non-payment of night-work allowances by seven farms,” stated Thehane.
“On some of the farms, employers apply different practices, such as 42 or 45 hours in the off-season, and 47 or 50 hours in the peak season. But contracts of employment didn’t make any distinction whether the employees work a compressed working week or extended working hours.”
He added that some employers didn’t provide safe working conditions when chemicals were used. Some farms conducted a risk assessment that was not appropriate for the work performed. Other farms didn’t have any firefighting equipment.
Agri Wes-Cape could only give a tentative response to the Department of Labour’s (DoL) findings as they had very little information specifying how, and on which farms, these inspections were conducted, said the organisation’s corporate communications manager, Porchia Adams.
“We’re aware of the inspections that took place in Ceres, Citrusdal and Paarl and will hopefully receive the reports soon,” said Adams. Western Cape agriculture minister Gerrit van Rensburg said Western Cape farmers were far ahead of farmers in other provinces as far as compliance to labour laws was concerned.
“I would like a list of the farms that were inspected from the DoL so that my department and Agri Wes-Cape can follow up on the allegations of non-compliance,” said Van Rensburg.