Farmworkers are set to see a rise in the minimum wage

Farmworkers are set to see a rise in the minimum wage

Trade body Wines of South Africa (WoSA) has warned that some wine growers will struggle to deal with a rise in the minimum wage for workers in the country.

The South African Government has this week agreed to raise the minimum daily wage for manual workers by 52%, from ZAR69 to ZAR105 (US$11.77) from 1 March. The change also includes an extra increase of 1.5 percentage points above the consumer inflation rate for the following two years. 

The move follows a spate of strikes in areas of the Western Cape last month. However, WoSA said at the time that the unrest was not linked to the wine industry and centred around table grape farms. 

A statement from WoSA today (6 February) said it “supports a living wage”.

“Many wine farms already pay their permanent workers above this new minimum wage,” the trade body added, before warning about what the wage hike could mean for wine producers. "It remains to be seen if this legislation, which will affect all seasonal workers, will be financially viable for most farmers, given that profitability in the wine industry is at an all-time low.

“Unlike many European wine producing nations," WoSA noted, "there are no government subsidies (for our industry).”

Last month, however, WoSA released figures showing that wine exports are at a record high.