Farmworkers raise concerns about COVID-19 safety at work

Farm management at the Broodkraal farm in Piketberg says claims that COVID-19 infected workers are not being isolated, are being blown out of proportion. The Labour Department says it will continue investigations into the farm later this month. Ronald Masinda has more. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - There are claims that seasonal workers at a Western Cape farm who are infected with COVID-19 are not being allowed to isolate.

The Labour Department says these are among the 30-odd complaints it receives daily about the exploitation of farmworkers.

READ: Western Cape forging ahead with plans to procure vaccine

Farm management at the Broodkraal farm in Piketberg says claims that COVID-19 infected workers are not being isolated, are being blown out of proportion. 

General manager Gerrit de Beer said, "we strongly oppose these allegations since we feel it's not factually correct."

He said they provide work for nearly 3,000 seasonal workers. 

Billy Claasen, a representative for the farmworkers, said employees live in overcrowded lodgings, making it difficult for them to isolate when they contract the virus. 

He said, "farmworkers are scared of exploitation, they are scared of being evicted, they are scared they will be fired and they are scared to speak out."

The Labour Department said it will continue investigations into the farm later this month. 

WATCH: Karim explains how new variant is highly transmissible

Labour Department inspector David Esau said, "I visited the farm on Friday, I was there following some of these allegations."

"But it was purely from a legislative purpose you have to identify three things which is the record that the employer has. And so the second round is on the 23rd where we will be doing the interviews with the workers."

Harvesting of grapes has already begun on this farm.

Any interruption of the harvest could be a tragedy for farmers and their workers.

Source
eNCA

Paid Content