Conservation & Environmental Matters
------ Forwarded Message
From: Phillip Owen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 14:58:23 +0200
Subject: Plantation Workers
Daily Dispatch, 13 September
Forest workers get R20 a day
By ZINE GEORGE
SOUTH AFRICAN forestry labourers are paid as little as R20 a day.
The shocking statistics were revealed to delegates at the first
forestry sector empowerment charter workshop, held in East London
"The issue of labourers getting paid between R20 and R22 per day is
of major concern to us," said Thami Zimu, a South Coast sugarcane and
timber farmer, who spoke on behalf of contractors.
"The broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) charter should
seek to give guidelines on how to avoid this."
She said the low labourers' wages were largely due to the very low
rate at which sub-contractors were paid by major contractors.
One participant said it was unfortunate that the major contractors in
the forestry sector were not part of the public hearings.
"If they were here we would detail to them the great pain and abuse
that we, including women and the youth, endure while working as
labourers in rural areas.
"A number of women are loaded on the back of trucks and are
ill-treated, while getting low wages," said the ORTambo representative.
Zimu, the Agriculture Department's national Female Farmer of the Year
2004 and who has more than 1000 hectares of timber, said there were
unequal power relations between sub-contractors and major contractors.
She said this was a key cause of problems in the sector and that it
could be related to the state's high outsourcing rate.
"About 90 percent of all forestry activities are outsourced," said
Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Bulelwa Sonjica suggested in
April that the department draw up a BBBEE charter as a guide for the
Yesterday's workshop was part of the consultative meetings with
stakeholders in the forestry sector.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry manager for policy and
regions, Barbara Schreiner, said Eastern Cape problems included the need
for major restructuring of state-owned assets, and the dominance of men
in the sector.
Zimu said there were about twice as many men as women in the sector.
Schreiner said new foresters needed to be brought in and small
contractors given enough support to make them viable.
The Eastern Cape workshop was the first of three nationally.
"We are going to hold similar hearings in Durban and Nelspruit and
come back here in November.
"We want to receive clear guidance on what should be included in this
charter," said Schreiner.
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