Agricultural strikes indicative of deeper issues

Fred Jacobs, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce speaks out on current strikes in the Western Cape:

This is just one example of why our current industrial relations framework is not working.

Sectoral determination is a department of labour issue and the Minister should be there, at the negotiating table, addressing the rationale behind the decision.

The current minimum wage in agriculture is set at 7.71 per hour or (R70 per 9-hour day) fixed by the Minister. By contrast the minimum wage for a worker in the public service is R26.61 per hour.

We can’t just suck a number out of the sky to determine what should be paid. We have to find out what the comparative wages are in the rest of the region. We have to go back to an empirical methodology.

What is equally

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concerning for business is the continuation of this trend of ill-discipline and violence from disgruntled workers and the breakdown of the existing negotiation process. The Chamber acknowledges the right to negotiate for a better living wage and better living conditions. We understand that our future depends on our current workers crafting a better life for their kids with access to decent education and prospects.

However, violence is simply going to result in job losses. Vineyards and orchards take years to mature and yield – it’s not an insurance claim on a piece of machinery that you can replace tomorrow. This will have a long-term knock on effect on the entire export ecosystem as well as local business, and that includes vulnerable small businesses

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