South Africa’s human resource dispensation in the farming sector is on the verge of collapse while landowners make other gains from perverse mechanization, following the ratification of a new bill that has set a par for the minimum wage, now at R105.
Reports from rich farming areas in Limpopo, as well as, Mpumalanga, where 2000 or more farm hands have received sacking letters, as farm owners try to eschew the 50-percent farm wage increment come March 1, 2013, rank as some of the most affected regions.
South Africa’s Minister of Labor, Mildred Oliphant was in the process of making the dream come true for many underpaid workers in farming and milk-production areas when the retrenchment news hit the business headlines.
Mechanization takes over
The wage increment has had a positive effect on other areas of the farming milieu, especially mechanical input trade, with some sources saying that mechanization has taken over the gap that the unsustainable human resource option will leave in the first quarter of the year.
“We sold nearly 8000 units,” were the remarks of the agricultural Machinery Association’s secretary Jim Rankin, commenting on the sale momentum, of which 60 percent was on tractors.
Mechanization has visited upon the South African scene with aplomb and observers have noted exponential growth in succeeding years, each surpassing the other by a 50 percent margin. A remarkable thing is that 2003 saw the sale of 3200 machines, with 2012 culminating with 7800.
Now that the wage bill has put the par that a farm hand can get daily at 105 Rands, it is inevitable that the greater part of farm owners will encourage more mechanization in their agricultural estates.
Another key region, one that began the retrenchment drive was Magoebaskloof, which has inspired Mpumalanga and other farming communities to follow the lead, with the reason being a need to shelve labor expenditure.
Already, the consolidate trade union dispensation has come to the rescue of the affected employees in Western Cape province, but there are still overtones of old-fashioned entities that still want to perpetuate the existing wage framework.