Roundtable workshop No 2 in the Cape Winelands: Changing agricultural labour patterns in the Hex and Breede River Valleys

What is a roundtable workshop?
A round table workshop brings together different stakeholders. Round table workshops are research led. Workshops which focus on global and local trend affecting a particular economic sector bring together people involved throughout the value chain. Workshops are professionally facilitated and are structured to promote dialogue, present different perspectives and encourage mutual listening and recognition of legitimate interests of all. They help to deepen understanding of problems, challenges and opportunities. The dialogue is documented and a report is circulated to all participants.

Why a workshop on changing agricultural labour patterns in the Valley?
Research indicates that the agricultural sector as a whole continues to shed jobs. According to Conradie (2007)while the area under production in the Hex River valley has expanded by a half over a thirty year period the number of agricultural jobs has fallen by 30%. The profile of the labour force in the valley is also changing. More agricultural work is being externalised. Seasonal farm workers are increasingly being employed by intermediaries. A reported undersupply of workers in some sectors at peak season has opened up the labour market to the hiring of migrant workers from other countries such as Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Struggles between intermediaries over sources of casual labour contributed to social conflict in De Doorns in May 2008 which primarily targeted Zimbabweans living and working in the area.

The combination of job shedding and the externalisation of agricultural labour coupled with an influx of displaced people from Zimbabwe and other countries in the region, suggests that local municipalities need to pay close attention to changing agricultural labour processes in order to be able monitor their implications for local development planning, service delivery and social conflict risk.

Key questions

  • How have employment patterns changed in the valley?
  • What accounts for the increasing externalisation of farm labour and what form does this take?
  • What is driving the increasing numbers of foreign migrants working in the agricultural sector?
  • What do we know about living and working conditions and payment levels on farms in the valley for permanent workers, local seasonal workers and foreign migrants?
  • What has been at the root of recent social conflict in the valley?
  • How are these trends likely to impact on social relations in future?
  • What can be done to minimise the risk of social conflict?

Who is doing the research?
Jan Theron, who is based at the Labour and Enterprise Policy Research Group at the University of Cape Town will prepare a briefing document which draws on the latest research which will be presented at the workshop. Jan has undertaken research in the Hex River Valley and has a long experience of labour law and practice.

Research led dialogue
Our approach is to make complex information clear and understandable to enable people from different backgrounds to read and discuss social and economic trends to better navigate the changing context.

Promoting research led dialogue to anticipate change
Promoting research led dialogue to anticipate change

Posted: 4/5/2012 (6:52:26 AM)

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