The people behind the plantations
The Forestry Industry (i.e. the primary Industry which is involved in the growing and harvesting of trees) employs an estimated 58 900 people directly and a further 27 000 people indirectly through businesses that service the Forestry Industry. In addition to these employees, the Forestry Industry provides the raw fibre which is processed by downstream processing plants such as pulp, paper and board mills, sawmills, veneer plants, mining timber mills, pole treating plants, charcoal plants and match factories. A further 63 200 people are directly and indirectly employed in these downstream processing activities. Since 1994, the labour market has been increasingly regulated which has led to a significant growth in real wages over the period and additional cost burdens on employers in terms of compliance with these new regulations and laws. Given that the Industry is still labour intensive (despite an increasing move towards the mechanisation of operations) with labour costs contributing up to 40% of operational costs, it is imperative that the Industry focusses on labour issues. Many of these issues (e.g. skills development, health and safety etc.) cut across the functional areas of other FSA Committees / Working Groups.
- Ensuring that the Industry’s voice is heard when new regulations and laws are introduced so as to ensure that neither employment levels nor timber growers’ businesses are adversely affected through unsustainable cost increases.
- Ensuring those working in the Industry are able to work in a healthy and safe working environment.
- Ensuring that the skills levels of those working in the Industry are continually improved.
- Ensuring that employers full comply with labour related legislation and regulations.
The FSA Human Resources Committee has been in operation since the founding of FSA in 2002. During its initial stage of operation its focus was on dealing with the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Sectoral Determination for Forestry workers. Numerous interactions with the then Department of Labour were held and submissions on and other inputs into the abovementioned made. In more recent years the Committee has focused its attention on education and training matters and even more recently, on the National Minimum Wage. The HR Committee, chaired by FSA, comprises the HR and Training heads of our various members and holds meetings on an ad hoc basis.
The overall objective of this Committee is to ensure that labour related regulations and laws do not negatively effect of employment levels in the Industry, the sustainability of timber growers’ labour intensive forestry operations and to promote skills development within the Industry and provide for a healthy and safe working environment for all who work in it.
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)
Department of Employment and Labour
Department of Higher Education and Training
Fibre Processing & Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA)
Forest Industries Training Providers’ Association
Nelson Mandela University
University of KwaZulu-Natal
University of Pretoria
University of Stellenbosch