The agricultural industry continues to be one of the sectors that shows growth time and time again when it comes to employment of employees. This, apart from challenges such as the minimum wage and misperceptions about the working relationship between farmers and farm workers.
StatsSA’s labor force survey for the first quarter of 2023 shows that unemployment is still extremely high with 21.1 million people who do not have a job or are actively looking for one.
However, agriculture again showed an increase in employment, providing employment to approximately 888,000 people.
“The agricultural industry could of course mean much more for job provision in the country if it were not for unrealistic labor legislation,” says Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TLU SA. “The idealistic minimum wage is really just a hoax. This may make the lives of a few people in the country slightly better, but for the majority it causes a loss of work. Farmers, as the employers, must farm for profit to survive. If the wage bill becomes too high, other ways must be looked at to ensure sustainability, such as for example mechanization, to the detriment of employment. Agriculture’s responsibility lies with productivity.”
The growth of employment in the agricultural industry also runs counter to lies about the supposedly poor relationship between farmers and farm workers and statements such as those recently made by COSATU about farmers.
“Agriculture probably has one of the best and healthiest relationships between employee and employer in any economic sector because they are so dependent on each other,” says Van Zyl. “The dilemma is that a farmer can only go so far with a wage bill before profitability is compromised. This is not necessarily the farmer’s choice, but is enforced by legislation. “If the minimum wage is regulated by the markets, not only the agricultural sector, but also all the other industries in South Africa will be able to make a much greater contribution to job creation. But now jobseekers have to rely instead on state grants – much lower than the minimum wage – which drains the economy and is not sustainable.”
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Read the original article in Afrikaans on TLU SA