MEC Advocates for Farm Workers’ Rights
In commemoration of Human Rights Day under the theme: “The year of Charlotte Maxeke :promoting human rights in the Age of Covid-19,” the MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development in the Northern Cape, Mase Manopole, has called on the exploitation of farm workers to stop as the act won’t be tolerated.
There has been series of reports detailing unfavorable working and living conditions, alleged gruesome stories of how badly farm workers are treated by their employers, continuation of dismissals and evictions, which the Department has recorded especially in the areas such as Phokwane, Siyancuma and ZF Mgcawu municipalities. Following such, the MEC said that there should be an improvement of working conditions in the Province’s farms.
She further indicated that it cannot be business as usual when farm workers’ rights continue to be violated. “The right to just and favorable working conditions, good standard of living, provision of adequate health is fundamental in improving the livelihoods of farm workers and farm dwellers. Farm workers and farm dwellers rights are human rights too as encapsulated in the Bill of Right,” she expressed.
Farm workers were also advised that in a case where there is violation, exploitation or experience of abuse, they need to report the matter to the nearest police station, the Department of Employment of Labour, Department of Agriculture, Environmental affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, Commercial Association and Trade Unions.
Emphasising on Section 10 of the Constitution Act of 1996 which states; “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected,” MEC Mase Manopole committed that the Department will continue advocating for farm workers’ rights and they will ensure that no worker is subjected to unbearable working conditions.
“Even though Department’s officials still struggle to play an oversight role to enforce compliance as they are denied access to the farms. We are going to ensure that farm workers in the Province are treated with respect and this include their rights to; freedom of association including the right to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively, decent standard of living, health and well-being, access to land, and access to government services,” she said.