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First report of the Joint Portfolio Committees on Lands and Public Service on plight of farm workers [SC 1, 2007]
First report of the Joint Portfolio Committees on Lands, Land Reform, Resettlement and Agriculture and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on the plight of farm workers and its impact on agricultural
productivity
Second Session Sixth Parliament, Parliament of Zimbabwe
Presented to Parliament Thursday 8th March, 2007

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Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Background
  • Findings of the Joint Committee
  • Concerns of Farm Workers
  • Collective Bargaining Process
  • Concerns Raised by Farmers
  • Joint committee's Observations
  • Recommendations
  • Conclusion

Executive Summary
Your Portfolio Committees on Lands, Land Reform, Resettlement and Agriculture and Public Service Labour and Social Welfare conducted a joint inquiry into the plight of farm workers and its impact on agricultural productivity, in terms of Standing Order No. 153. This was a follow-up to an all stakeholder workshop organised by the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Land Reform, Resettlement and Agriculture together with the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe in October 2005.

In carrying out its inquiry, your Joint Committee held stakeholder meetings with relevant organisations in the agricultural sector and conducted public hearings in Mashonaland Central and Manicaland Provinces. Your Joint Committee also received valuable written submissions from stakeholders as well as members of the public.

At the time of its inquiry, your Joint Committee found out that farm workers were getting unacceptably low wages, Z$8 000 per month. Your Committee was told that new wages for the current quarter had not been agreed upon due to a deadlock between farmers' and farm workers' representatives in the National Employment Council board for Agricultural (NEC). The former was proposing a new wage of Z$16 000 whereas the latter was demanding Z$78 000 per month. Apart from paltry wages, your Committee was not happy with the general appalling conditions of service for farm workers, especially as regards; housing, employment contracts, late and non payment, denial of lunch breaks, sick and compassionate leave, just to mention but a few.

Farmers on their part, whilst appreciating the plight of farm workers said that they were not able to provide adequately for the welfare of their farm workers due to a number of reasons. They cited late distribution of inputs and the general shortage of inputs on the open market, late processing of bank loans, lack of security of tenure and collateral security, equipment and irrigation infrastructure as some of the factors that have contributed to low productivity. They said as long as these issues were not addressed, farmers could not be expected to produce at a level where they were able to provide adequately for the welfare of their workers.

As a result of poor working conditions, some farm workers have resorted to gold panning and all sorts of illegal activities in order to eke out a living.

All the afore-mentioned challenges have led to low agricultural productivity and in turn adversely affected the welfare of farm workers. Your Joint Committee, therefore, urges government to adopt a holistic approach to address the issue of low agricultural productivity and the welfare of farm workers because they are inseparable.

. . .

6. Conclusion
Based on what it saw on the farms, it is your Joint Committee's considered opinion that if government does not put in place aggressive policies to address the afore-mentioned challenges, the country might be sitting on a time bomb in terms of food security and the economy in general. Your Joint Committee, therefore, calls for government to adopt a holistic approach to address these challenges and thus raise agricultural productivity, which in turn will go a long way in improving the welfare of farm workers because the two are inseparable.

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