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Audio: National Minimum Wage impractical, says Agri EC president

21 November 2016
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Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern said the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) proposal by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was “impractical”.

He was speaking after Ramaphosa’s recent announcement of the quantum of a NMW being applicable to all sectors of the economy.

“I think we must understand that this is a politically driven motive from the government’s point of view,” said Stern.

“They are concerned at what is happening with the rating agencies and they want to be seen that, at least, they are doing something.”

He added that concerned him because it’s “certainly not going to be sustainable”.

“There is absolutely no ways that agriculture can afford this sort of increase, especially at a time when many farmers are under pressure.

“I’m pretty certain we will engage with the government to try to address this matter very soon.”

n a statement issued by Agri South Africa earlier today, the organisation said they would consult with the agricultural sector about the recommendation.

“We consider the labour force in the agricultural sector of critical importance,” said Neil Hamman, chairperson of Agri SA’s labour policy committee.

“While labour cost is a major cost driver, a contented labour force is equally essential for optimum production in the sector.”

He said that compromising the intricate balance between wages and the sustainability of farming enterprises would result in unintended consequences such as job losses and mechanisation.

“Given the vulnerability of the sector, we are calling for in-depth research and consultation with all agricultural role-players, especially farmers in drought-stricken areas, those who face stiff international competition, as well as emerging farmers.”

He said Agri SA sought active participation in the proposed Decent Work Commission which would be responsible for minimum wages as well as employment conditions and employment equity.

“We remain, however, concerned about the impact on employment and profitability of the agricultural sector.

“We would like to see the government and the business sector working together to create an environment in which businesses and agricultural enterprises can flourish.