What do we mean when we say casualisation of farm work is rising? Evidence from fruit farms in the Western Cape

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Centre for Social Science Research

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University of Cape Town

Du Toit & Ally’s (2003) results on the casualisation of farm work in the Western Cape confirmed the worst fears of sociologists: Globalisation and/or labour laws increased casualisation in agriculture. New labour data and a study conducted in 1976 allow one to revisit the casualisation result for the table grape industry of the Hex River Valley. This paper resolves imprecise definitions of regular versus permanent status, and of casual versus seasonal status. It also examines casualisation and job shedding. Results show a decrease in the share of seasonal work and no change in the casual component of seasonal work. The job status of most farm women in the Valley improved as a result of legislative changes implemented since 1994. Outsourcing is present but insignificant at this point. On the whole data for the table grape industry of the Hex River Valley does not support the hypothesis that globalisation and labour market reform caused dramatic increases in casualisation.