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An exploration of the drivers of vulnerabilities in informal employment: a case study of the agricultural sector in uPhongolo Local Municipality.

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This study explores the drivers of vulnerabilities in informal employment using the agricultural sector in uPhongolo Local Municipality as a case study. The study is against the backdrop of inefficient enforcement laws governing the relationships between employers. This study employed a qualitative research methodology with 30 purposively selected participants comprising, twenty farm workers, five municipal workers, and five officials of the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. Data were collected using face-to-face in-depth audio-recorded interviews. The interviews were transcribed, coded thematically, and analysed using the Institutional theory. The study’s findings revealed that informal agricultural labourers have substantial risks and vulnerabilities due to the unpredictability of their working status, the lack of a documented labour contract, and the lack of efficient enforcement of regulations surrounding the terms of their employment. The government's inability to effectively enforce labor regulations in the agricultural sector has resulted in worker vulnerability in this sector. Due to these factors, informal agricultural workers have limited access to good and affordable health care for themselves and their families. Most unprotected agricultural laborers face a variety of difficulties, including significant criminal exposure and a lack of legal and social protection. Lastly, most farm workers are victims of salary deductions without any contractual or verbal agreement, low remuneration including unpaid overtime, and inconsistent working hours. This study recommends that government must review current labour legislation in the agricultural sector, this could be done by creating a single joint interdepartmental collaboration structure. This study also recommended that there is a need for increasing digital communication mechanisms and media coverage on labour issues in the agricultural sector. There is a need for amendment and enforcement of the Labour Relations Act of 1995; and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 (Sectoral Determination 13: Farmworker Sector). The government has the mandate to ensure that Determination 13 for Agriculture is applied in agricultural farms. This can be done by maximizing the number of professional labour inspectors. Finally, the study recommended a need for the establishment of a workplace forum to represent farm workers’ labour rights.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.