Comply or pay R28 million, labour department tells farmer

2012-11-09 14:50
The country’s second largest tomato producer faces a R28 million fine for allegedly failing to comply with labour regulations.

The labour department told Beeld newspaper it had sent Montina Farms, in Modjadjiskloof near Tzaneen, a 21-day contravention notice to comply with departmental regulations or pay the fine.

It said government inspectors had visited the farm and had issued several warnings.

According to the department, the Limpopo farmer’s offences had to do with the provision of food and housing to about 2 000 workers living on 20 farms.

Montina was also accused of not paying the minimum wage, enforcing illegal salary deductions, and not giving workers their leave pay.

The newspaper reported that the department’s deputy director of inspection and enforcement services in Limpopo, Phaswane Tladi, had said that if the farmer did not comply with the notice it could be made an order of the Labour Court.

Montina Farms’ owner Kaspaas Pohl said yesterday he did not want to comment.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions welcomed the move.

“Cosatu congratulates the department for its firm action, which should send a strong message to all the farms that we know still fail to comply with the legislation,” spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

“The case also highlights the fact that even the legal minimum wage of R1 375 a month is pitifully low, and needs to be reviewed urgently.”