New basic wage for farmworkers

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced that the new basic minimum wage will be R105 per day.

Striking farmworkers hurl rocks at police during a protest for better wages in De Doorns in the Western Cape, Thursday, 10 January 2013. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Monday announced that the new basic minimum wage for the farming sector has been set at R105 per day.

This comes in the wake of three separate strikes in the Western Cape.

During the demonstrations, angry farmworkers looted shops, destroyed property and torched hectares of farmland.

Three people were killed in the violent strike.

Farmworkers initially demanded a R150 daily wage hike, which they claim was more than double their daily payment of R69.

This amounts to R11,66 per hour or R525 a week.

Minimum wages will be reassessed in 2014 and 2015, in line with inflation.

Farmworkers affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Building and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Bawusa) were adamant they would continue to protest until their wage demands were met.

But the strikes were suspended two weeks ago.

The hike will come into effect from March 1.

Oliphant said those farmers who cannot afford to increase wages must prove it.

"In terms of the law, people can apply for the exemption provided they submit proof. One of the things we want is proof of financial statements, so we have a guarantee that the person can't afford payment."

The minister said that according to research, there is the threat of job losses stemming from the pay hike.