At a series of public hearings in the province from 9 September to 11 September, FSA argued it was government’s responsibility to create an enabling environment for the sector given its declining profitability.
“We therefore request that the sector be exempt from the proposed national minimum wage currently under discussion and that the status quo be maintained,” said FSA CEO Henk Vermeulen in a statement.
He said an enabling environment could be created through the implementation of a value chain approach, by improving the competiveness of the sector and through training and development through the SETA system. The development of a system of job categorisation in the agriculture sectoral determination was also essential.
The economic realities of the agricultural sector meant that a considerable number of farmers won’t be able to afford excessive wage increases, according to Vermeulen. Minimum wages for farm workers increased by 400% since 2003. “The problem is that producer prices did not increase at the same margins,” he said.