Western Cape farm pay 'above minimum'

25 February 2013 - 09:43
By Quinton Mtyala

WESTERN Cape premier Helen Zille says the province' s farmers "traditionally paid above the minimum wage" and that seasonal farmworkers in De Doorns received benefits and pay of on average R100 a day.

Zille was speaking on Friday at the opening of the Western Cape legislature in her annual state of the province address.

With just over a year until the next general elections, Zille's speech emphasised the achievements of her provincial administration since it came to power in 2009.

She said the "above average" wages of De Doorns farmworkers was one of the reasons seasonal farmworkers from as far afield as Zimbabwe and Lesotho came to work on Western Cape farms.

The potential loss of jobs in the farming sector should be "hung around the neck" of the ANC which used labour unrest to make the Western Cape "ungovernable", she said.

But Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said Zille was "delusional" about the conditions on farms before last year's strike.

"Helen is clearly delusional. It is on record that it is the desperation of farmworkers which lead to the strike," said Ehrenreich.

Farmworkers had demanded to be paid R150 per day, and a strike which started in De Doorns in November last year, quickly spread to other farming towns in the Boland.

Earlier this month Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant changed the sectoral determination for farmworkers from R69 per day to R105 per day. Instead of making the argument on farmworkers' wages, Ehrenreich said, Zille should say whether "there are any white people living off R100 per day".