The minimum wage for forestry workers in South Africa is set to increase by 56% to R2 229 per month, or R11.43 per hour, from 1st April 2013.
The new wage rate for forestry workers, which is set at 98% of the minimum wage for agricultural workers, was announced by the Minister of Labour in March. The decision has been made despite efforts by Forestry South Africa to persuade the DoL to moderate the increase which they believe will be unaffordable for many forestry businesses, and will lead to significant job losses.
In April next year the forestry minimum wage will be set at 100% of the Agricultural minimum wage.
Many employers of forestry workers, who say the new minimum wage threatens the viability of their businesses, are expected to apply to the Department of Labour for permission to pay a wage lower than the minimum.
Meanwhile there are strong indications that forestry companies, particularly the large growers, are fast-tracking their plans to mechanise forestry operations, terrain and conditions permitting.
While the introduction of mechanized harvesting systems have been steadily increasing in South Africa over the past 10 years, the emphasis is now shifting to the development of mechanised silviculture operations, especially pitting, planting and fertilising.
Details of the new minimum wages for forestry workers from 1st April 2013 are as follows:-
Month R 2 229.32
Week R 514.50
Day R 102.90 (for a 9 hour day)
Hour R 11.43