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By Anna Majavu | Aug 19, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

BLACK women farmworkers are facing a new form of exploitation - labour brokering.

Parliament heard yesterday that women farmworkers contracted to labour brokers earn as little as R480 a month and only 5percent of those contracted have written contracts.

This was revealed by the Centre for Rural Legal Studies and the Women on Farms project, who told Parliament's labour portfolio committee that labour brokers needed to be regulated.

The organisations conducted a study on farmworkers, labour brokers and farmers on the apple and pear farms in Grabouw in the Western Cape.

They found that male former farmworkers and farm supervisors were setting themselves up as labour brokers, and importing black women from Eastern Cape for temporary work on farms during the harvest season.

"If workers had options they would prefer contracts with the farmer," said Colette Solomon, a researcher at the Women on Farms project.

The study found that farmers preferred migrant workers rather than local workers because "local workers are more likely to know their rights".

The organisations stopped short of calling for labour brokers to be banned, as Cosatu has done. They said they feared that a ban might be challenged in the Constitutional Court.


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