130108. Farmworkers walking back home after a days work on a farm in De Doorns. Farmworkers are planning to go ahead with the planned strike. Workers are demanding R150 per day, currently the minimum wage is R69 per day. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Johannesburg - Business Unity SA (Busa) expressed concern on Friday about the 2000 farmworkers who will lose their jobs because of retrenchments.

“Busa urges that a balance be found in creating sustainable jobs,” it said in a statement.

“The added burden of administered prices such as electricity, fuel and water, coupled with increasing demands for higher wages, make it difficult for businesses to expand and thrive.”

A business-friendly policy environment was needed to help achieve the goals set out in the National Development Plan. One of its key objectives was job creation.

“Busa remains committed to constructive discussions that will ensure the sustainability of commercial agriculture, as well as basic proper living and working conditions of farmers.”

On Thursday, Business Day reported that at least 2000

farmworkers had already been issued with notices of retrenchment.

According to the union, TAU SA, farmers could not afford the 52 percent increase to a new minimum daily wage of R105, announced by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Monday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the retrenchment of workers by farmers was an attempt to spite the government.

“The dismissal threats are nothing more than an effort to spite workers and the government.... This is an act of hostility by the farmers,” Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said.

He called on farmers to stop retrenching workers and evicting them from farms.

“Farmers who have a problem of not being able to pay the new minimum wages should apply for an exemption, as the law prescribes. None of the farmers who are now threatening dismissals have applied for an exemption.”

Farmworkers in the Western Cape's De Doorns area went on strike last year, demanding that the minimum daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a cohesive land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended on condition that agricultural trade organisation Agri-SA committed to local-level agreements and undertook not to victimise workers. - Sapa