Geskilbeslegting in arbeidswetgewing in die landbou
Du Plessis, Andries Jacobus
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One must bear in mind that working conditions in the agricultural sector differ completely from most other economic sectors. Until recently farm workers were excluded from legislation regulating these conditions and labour relations between farmers and farm workers were determined mainly by common law. Labour law and trade union activities have become acknowledged forces in agriculture which contributed to the disappearance of the traditional relationship between the farmer and his employees. The South African Agricultural, Plantation and Allied Workers Union (SAAPAWU) was recently founded and claims membership of 45 000. Most farmers in the Brits area treat this complex problem with apathy. They have a negative attitude towards labour legislation mainly because they are misinformed and unacquainted with labour legislation. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY. The main objectives of this study are: *to determine the attitude of the farmer towards the implementation of recent labour laws, and the involvement by trade unions; *to provide steps in managing conflict and resistance to change; *to provide practical solutions to dispute resolutions and the prevention of disputes and *to provide practical guidelines for farms, with the relevant documents to be used in the changing agriculture. METHODOLOGY. A theoretical orientation was done with regard to social change, resistance to change conflict, and the managing of change and conflict. Chapter 3 deals with an analysis of present labour legislation. •The most important act, where the farmer can trangress easily, is the Basic Conditions of Employment. Chapter 4 focuses on the reality of the conditions of employment for the agricultural sector. Chapter 5 deals with the Extension of Tenure Act, the Employment Equity Act and the recent Skills Development Act and with the Levy Act as part thereof. Chapter 6 concentrates on the conflict potential in the agricultural sector with the dispute resolution mechanisms and relevant disciplinary procedures. It was deemed necessary to focus in the following chapter (chapter 7) also on protected strikes and protected lock outs, as well as the unprocedural actions and remedies for both the employer and the employee. Important issues are identified and discussed within the agricultural sector; factual information was obtained through an empirical study in which questionnaires and unstructured personal interviews were used as research techniques. The survey was done amongst farmers in the Brits area. 83 questionnaires were distributed and a 87,95% response rate was achieved. To verify some of the data twenty.:unstructured interviews were conducted. MAJOR FINDINGS. From the replies of the respondents who fell in the age group above 30 (80,8%) it can be deduced that they are the more traditional farmers who seem to be rather hesitant to practice labour law. It is significant that 45,2% of the respondents are in possession of a tertiary qualification. Regarding training in labour relations, 68,5% of the respondents indicated that they have not yet attended any formal courses, while 68,5% have only a general knowledge of labour law. Almost a quarter (24, 7%) of the respondents have only a verbal contract of employment with their employees. Most of the respondents (80,8 %) disagree with the necessity of any new labour legislation or that it could lead to better relations between the farmer and his employees. A substantial amount ( 42,5%) of the respondents see the main objective of a trade union only to obtain political power. With regard to labour unrest and unemployment, 91,8% of the respondents indicated that the Labour Relations Act will undoubtedly contribute to the detereoration of the present situation. 34,2% of the respondents admitted that they have no knowledge of implementing the new labour laws and 64,4% are sure that the laws are not feasible. Considering the fact that communication and equity are essential for sound labour relations, only 39,4% and 31,0%, respectively, indicated that they find these as the most important factors in an industrial relations system. CONCLUSION. Labour legislation is enforced on farmers and their resistance to change can create conflict. Farmers need to realise that they, as managers, have to implement new labour law. If they do not become acquainted with the labour laws, they can find themselves in an unbearable situation. The new Labour Relations Act (LRA) seems to be more employee orientated and so is the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Farmers must take note that, should they contravene by deviation or negligence, it could mean that they are acting procedurally and substantially unfairly which in the end, could: have disastrous financial implications. It is evident that change and conflict need to be managed and that this reality should apply to the farmer as well. The conciliation mechanisms as envisaged in the LRA are to be followed and the Code of Good Practice is to be kept in mind at all times. To survive, visionary leadership is required.