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Farmers cutting costs - TAU

South Africa

Johannesburg - Farmers had no choice but to retrench workers and cut costs to survive, TAU SA said on Thursday.

The farmers' union said at least 2 000 farmworkers had been notified of their impending retrenchment, especially in Limpopo.

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A woman protester shouts out as she and others protest against low wages paid by farmers, by burning tires in the township at Franschhoek, South Africa, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Protesting farm worker in the Western Cape wine region have been protesting the past three weeks against the minimun wage of 69 rand ($8) per day, asking for 150 rand ($13) per day. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

“These retrenchments are the beginning. Farmers started restructuring immediately after the announcement of the new minimum wage,” general manager Bennie van Zyl said.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farmworkers on Monday - up from the current R69 a day. It would take effect on March 1.

Van Zyl said farmers had proposed an R80 wage, because of the “present state” of the agricultural sector.

He said most of the retrenchments were due to farmers mechanising their operations.

“The effect that this (minimum wage increase) would have on consumers and the country's food security are unimaginable.” - Sapa

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