The Congress of South African Trade Unions visited the Farm Plot S59 which is situated in the area of Skeerpoort under Madibeng municipality.
The visit was jointly with Department of Labour (DoL) inspectors and immigration police officers as a result of workers complaining that they are not treated properly due to the majority of foreigners being employed without proper documents who are treated fairly because they are cheap labour and that the employer is refusing to comply with the legislation of our country, in particular labour laws.
The outcome of the visit was that indeed the employer is not complying, in particular with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and many other laws.
Workers are also subjected to retrenchments caused by transferring workers to one of the employer’s farms in Hercules, Pretoria. The majority of workers stay around the farm in an informal settlement and their children are attending schools in the same area. Workers are faced with poor conditions of service and poor compliance with the farm workers’ sectoral determinations.
It was agreed that labour inspectors and immigration officers will be visiting the farm in the presence of the owner and full inspections will be done into those who are illegally in RSA. The laws of this country will be followed and the employer must comply with them. With regard the alleged resignation letters, the employer must withdraw those letters, because it is clear that he is running away from paying UIF money to the workers.
We call on the labour inspectors to do their work without any favour to any farmer or employer. Farm workers are complaining that they are treated very badly by some of DoL inspectors, some of whom do not speak to them, but just to the employer, and then leave. This creates suspicions from the poor workers who are exploited daily.
Farm workers must be allowed to join the union of their choice. They are human beings, and they must be treated as human beings.
We requesting the DoL to do their work. When workers complain to COSATU none of the employers or the DoL has the right to question the worker. The DoL must stop to represent the farmer their role is to make sure that all are respected, both the employer and farm workers. If farmers need to be assisted they must do so if the farm workers needed to be assisted, whether they belong to a union or not, they must be assisted.
We request the DoL to stop exposing poor farm workers. They can continue to expose COSATU, in particular the provincial secretary we are used to that, but not poor farm workers who are oppressed by farmers and who are now oppressed by our own government.
We request the DoL to inspect anytime, not only when COSATU complains. They must stop saying to farmers that they are sent by COSATU but do their work unapologetically. If the employer is not complying the law must be followed.
The date of the next inspection will be announced publicly and we call on media to expose such employers, and those inspectors who are friends of the farmers.
We call on farm workers to continue to exercise their rights by reporting all their challenges to COSATU and the DoL, or if it is assault, to the SAPS. No one must be accused for reporting the critical challenges they are facing daily.
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions