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Violations of farm workers’ labour rights in post-apartheid South Africa

Stephen Devereux

Development Southern Africa, 2020, vol. 37, issue 3, 382-404

Abstract: Commercial farm workers in South Africa endured centuries of exploitation and abuse until the 1990s, when progressive legislation was promulgated that confers rights to workers aimed at improving their living and working conditions, including through a sector-specific statutory minimum wage. However, violations of labour rights are widespread in the agriculture sector, and farm workers are arguably more vulnerable than before as they face ongoing evictions, casualisation and exploitation. This research study, conducted among women farm workers in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces, documents labour rights violations in the areas of wages and contracts and occupational health and safety. Apart from farmers themselves, government is responsible for failing to enforce compliance with pro-worker legislation, while trade unions have failed to represent farm workers and hold farmers and government to account.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2019.1609909

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