Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has urged farmers to expose those not complying with labour laws. He was addressing farmers in the Northern Cape during a two-day inspection of the province’s farms for acceptable working conditions and adherence to labour laws, as part of the government’s ongoing workplace inspections.
He commended the “growing trend of exemplary employers” who didn’t just comply with labour legislation, but went the extra mile to ensure the welfare of their workers and their families. However, he noted that “good farmers often suffer unfair bad publicity on the international front, because of those who do not respect the humanity of their workers.” Mdladlana was particularly impressed by the working conditions of 200 employees and their families at Southern Farms, a table grape exporter situated on the banks of the Orange River, about 200km from Upington, and one of few farms where the staff is treated with utmost care. A t Southern Farms, each of the well-designed houses is equipped with running water, electricity, pay television and good sanitation. There’s also a first-class crèche, clinic and runway that the Red Cross often uses to provide medical care for the workforce. W orkers also have sports facilities and a community hall at their disposal and are offered training in various skills, including agriculture, health and safety, basic mechanics, the safe use of chemicals, and basic literacy. “What the employer is doing here should be emulated by many,” Mdladlana said. “It’s a commendable example of a growing number of employers who realise the importance of everyone’s right to fair labour practices as enshrined in our country’s constitution. But there will come a time when we will follow those who are exporting while flouting the law. You cannot be a good exporter and also break the law.” Mdladlana stressed that by conducting workplace inspections, labour officials were not driven by a need to punish, but by a desire to encourage and teach both the employer and workers the importance of complying with occupational health and safety conditions for their own good. – BuaNews