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Retrenching employees? Protect your business from an unfair dismissal claim by following these four steps

by , 12 February 2013
Only 5% of farmworkers are currently unionised. Now, with a huge amount of farmworkers facing retrenchment as a result of the new minimum wage that many farmers can't afford to pay, many more are set to be unionised by unions working to protect these workers.

Here's what you need to know about the 'four pillars of fair retrenchment' when a union is involved...

Last week, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farm workers to take effect from March.
While exemption from the new minimum wage will be available to farmers who can prove their financial situation is so poor they'd be forced to shut down operations if their wage bill rose accordingly, at least 2,000 farm workers have already been issued with notices of retrenchment, says Business Day's BD Live website.
That's why there's now a drive to unionise farmworkers.

More unions for farmworkers is now on the cards

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) has pledged R1 million to the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) to recruit farmworkers.
Factory workers and organisers will help unionise thousands of farmworkers in De Doorns and other towns hit by strikes.
This is the first time Sactwu has taken action outside its own industry, the union's national organising secretary, Bonita Loubser, says on IOL News.

And Hex Valley Table Grape chairman Michael Laubscher said farmers weren't opposed to workers being 'organised' as this will give farmers and farmworkers one contact point. If you have unionised workers in your business, you need to be very careful if you retrench them as certain dismissalsare automatically seen as unfair dismissal.

There are four pillars of fair retrenchment that will stand up if your retrenchment case is taken to the CCMA.

1. You'll need to prove you had a sufficient reason for the retrenchment;
2. You'll have to prove you used fair criteria when choosing the employee to be retrenched;
3. You'll have to prove you consulted fully and in good faith with the employee or his trade union before making the retrenchment decision; and
4. You'll have to prove you disclosed to the employee or union all the information to be used for purposes of consulting on retrenchment.
Make sure you don't retrenchemployeeswithout following these four steps or the retrenchment case is likely to turn against you if it's taken to the CCMA.
Checklist: What You Must Think About Before You Retrench Your Employees

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