MALALANE – Many farmworkers are still unaware of labour legislation, and some farmers do not comply with even the basic laws.
This was revealed at the debriefing of a Department of Labour blitz campaign on Friday, spearheaded by provincial chief inspector, Nonyaniso Njwambe.
While some companies were compliant or partially complaint with labour legislation, the officials had several concerns regarding administration and basic conditions of employment and notices were issued.
This was all done during a five-day awareness campaign, where officials inspected several farms around Nkomazi. Hilton Ganesen led the project, which started last Monday.
Officials from Mozambique’s ministry of labour and social security also joined to learn good practices and observe labour processes, since many farmworkers are from Mozambique.
Officials engaged with farmworkers and educated them on legislation such as health and safety, employment equity and employment conditions.
Officials reported that they were well received on all the farms and could talk with workers and find out what their challenges and problems are.
Minimum-wage issues and uncertainties around the necessity of foreign nationals to contribute to the unemployment insurance fund (UIF) were clarified. By law, all workers have to contribute and everyone has to benefit from it.
Officials identified this as a urgent discussion point for their next campaign and inspection.
The condition of farmworkers’ accommodation was also discussed at length. Some were living in shocking conditions. Njwambe stated that during their next round of inspections they would approach farmers with the specific accommodation needs they had to comply with.
Unlike last year, payment below the minimum wage was not one of the big discussion points.
During their debriefing, the Mozambican delegates told their SA colleagues that many of the procedures are the same in their country.
Examples of differences in Mozambique include the fact that a company must pay insurance for all their workers, that female workers get an hour a day to breastfeed their babies up to a year old and that forklift and other vehicle operators do not need a licence or other papers.
The department hopes to host a bigger advocacy event to inform more workers of their rights later this year and will then inspect several more farms in the area.