Home News Exploitation of NC farmworkers will not be tolerated – MEC

Exploitation of NC farmworkers will not be tolerated – MEC

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“It cannot be business as usual when the rights of farmworkers continue to be violated.”

MEC Mase Manopole. File picture

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mase Manopole, has called for improved working conditions for farmworkers in the Province.

Manopole said during the commemoration of Human Rights Day on Sunday that some farmworkers are still subjected to unfavourable working and living conditions.

“The right to just and favourable working conditions, good standard of living and provision of adequate health is fundamental in improving the livelihoods of farmworkers and farm dwellers,” said Manopole.

“Farmworkers and farm dweller rights are human rights too, as encapsulated in the Bill of Rights. A series of reports, which have been recorded by the department, detail alleged gruesome stories of how badly farmworkers are treated by their employers. These violations are rife, especially in the areas such as Phokwane, Siyancuma and ZF Mgcawu municipalities.

“It cannot be business as usual when the rights of farmworkers continue to be violated.”

Manopole added that assistance to farmworkers whose rights are being violated is also being hampered by some farm owners.

“The dismissals and evictions of farmworkers continue unabated. Furthermore, the department’s officials still struggle to play an oversight role, to enforce compliance, due to them being denied access to farms,” she said.

She urged farmworkers whose rights are being violated to report such incidents to the authorities.

“Anyone who has experienced abuse or has seen and heard of the exploitation of farmworkers should report such matters to the nearest police station, the Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, commercial associations and trade unions.

“Section 10 of the Constitution Act of 1996 stated that everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected. This section of the Bill of Rights is also applicable to farmworkers and farm dwellers.”

Manopole said the department will work relentlessly to ensure that farm owners abide by the laws.

“The department continues advocating for the following rights in relation to farmworkers and farm dwellers. All farmworkers have freedom of association, including the right to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively.”

Manopole added that the minimum wage for farmworkers has also been amended.

“The Minister of Employment and Labour has recently announced the amendments to the national minimum wage and the new minimum wages for 2021. Farmworkers will be paid a minimum wage of R21.69 per hour,” she said.