|dc.description.abstract||New labour legislation was introduced to agriculture in September 1993. This study examines
the effects of the new legislation on agriculture, mainly in terms of increased farmers' transaction
costs when dealing with labourers. The new legislation introduced to agriculture includes the
Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) and
Agricultural Labour Act (ALA).
Data were collected via a postal survey of 450 commercial farmers in KwaZulu-Natal (including
150 sugar-cane farmers, 150 dairy farmers and 150 beef farmers), of whom 135 returned usable
questionnaires. The questionnaire dealt with the financial and labour structures on the farm,
implementation of the new legislation, use of contractors, impact of minimum wages, education
and trade unions.
The supply of labour to agriculture in South Africa is relatively elastic, due to the high
percentage of unemployed people. An increase in the cost of labour may cause farmers to use
more substitutes, such as machinery, new technologies and contractors.
The study examines machinery and labour contracting in commercial agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal
and to what extent new labour legislation may affect farmers' attitudes towards the use of
contractors. Descriptive statistics show employment of contractors, impact of enterprise type on
use of contractors, and farming activities which are contracted out. Logistic regression suggests
that on-farm implementation of new labour legislation, enterprise type, age of the respondent
and turnover (farm size) influence a farmer's decision whether or not to contract in machinery
New labour legislation has affected the structure of labour on commercial farms in KwaZulu-Natal
by increasing transactions costs between labourer and farmer, and by raising wages; for
example, farmers now have to pay overtime rates for work after-hours and on Sundays. Survey
respondents indicated that, if minimum wages were imposed, cash wages would be paid and
perquisites would be charged for. If the minimum wage was set above present wages, labour
would be replaced with machinery and contractors. Respondents would prefer an industrial
council to determine minimum wages (if they are imposed), accounting for enterprise and
Study results show that average cash wages for general (unskilled) farm labour are negatively
related to distance between the farm and nearest large town or city, and positively related to
turnover (farm size) and application of the new legislation. Enterprise type influenced the cash
wage, value of rations paid to general farm labour and the provision of land rights for workers.
Substitution of cash for non-cash benefits, and capital for labour may occur if the new legislation
is strictly enforced.
Farmers feel that there are a number of management problems they face in the future, involving
labour, unions, government and finance. Future opportunities include marketing, export of
produce, and labour upliftment and training.||en