Farmworkers are being forced to find their own transport to work after being told by some farmers that they would no longer provide transport for them, the Western Cape Legislature’s Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affair and Development Planning has heard.
The committee was meeting to discuss various options to improve the safe and dignified transport of farmworkers in the province in light of “multiple accidents” during the previous harvest seasons, reports said.
“I’ve had a complaint from one farm worker, where the farmer has now said: You must now provide your own transport and see how you get to the farm.
“I’ve got another letter here saying that farmworkers must club together and pay R1 000 per week for their own transport to the farms. We’ve got to pick up the pace and find solutions because the farmworkers are suffering,” IOL quoted committee member Peter Marais (FF+) as saying.
Committee chairperson Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA) said a situation – in which farmers decided that their core business was farming but did not care about the transport of their workers – was of particular concern, as there was a danger that any additional costs could be devolved to labourers.
Van der Westhuizen said this was the second such briefing this year after the committee previously resolved to also invite labour unions representing farmworkers, as well as the Road Traffic Management Corporation, a News24 report said.
Both the agriculture department and labour unions were asked to pay close attention to farmworkers’ transportation and to promote good practices, such as the temporary fitting of seats and canopies on the back of the truck, the report said.