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Struggling farmers urged to seek help

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By SAPA

Johannesburg - Farmers struggling with the new minimum wages should ask for government help and not retrench workers, the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said on Thursday.

“We still hope that those farm owners who are truly experiencing cash-flow challenges will take advantage of the call by the minister of labour to ask for a reprieve, based on financial information provided,” said Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola.

“Fawu will seek to engage those farm owners earmarking retrenchment and hopefully reach... (an) understanding. If no agreement is duly reached... we will immediately co-ordinate (a) local consumer boycott and international retailer boycott.”

Earlier, TAU SA said farmers had no choice but to retrench workers and cut costs to survive.

The farmers' union said at least 2000 farmworkers had been notified of their impending retrenchment, mostly in Limpopo.

“These retrenchments are the beginning. Farmers started restructuring immediately after the announcement of the new minimum wage,” general manager Bennie van Zyl said.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farmworkers on Monday - up from the current R69 a day. It would take effect on March 1.

Van Zyl said farmers had proposed an R80 a day wage, because of the “present state” of the agricultural sector.

He said most of the retrenchments were due to farmers mechanising their operations.

“The effect that this (minimum wage increase) would have on consumers and the country's food security are unimaginable.” - Sapa

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