Good labour practices and relationships in the spotlight
— Vastrap Enterprises (Part 1)
ELMARIE HELBERG, SA Graan/Grain contributor
At Vastrap Enterprises, a mixed farming business near Ladybrand in the eastern Free State, it is believed that if farm workers are treated with respect and feel appreciated, it will reflect in their work. This is where their success lies: In happy, loyal and hardworking staff.
Vastrap Enterprises has 18 permanent staff members and a farm manager, Mr André Scheepers, who has been employed since 2005. There are eleven workers in the crop team (maize, sunflower and wheat) and seven workers in livestock (Boran cattle stud, commercial cattle and sheep).
“We believe that our staff is the most important asset of our farming business and this philosophy underlines our approach to labour practices. As a starting point, we aim to comply with all South Africa’s labour legislation. However, simply complying with the letter of the law doesn’t guarantee a healthy work environment or a motivated workforce.
“We put a lot of thought and effort into how we can keep staff morale high. It’s not only the right thing to do, but also makes business sense to have happy and loyal staff especially in a farming community where everyone lives in close proximity to each other. We care about the details, like making sure that everyone is kitted out in good quality work gear branded with the Vastrap logo and having a well-structured bonus scheme that incentivises good work,” Mr Quentin de Bruyn (owner of Vastrap Enterprises) states.
De Bruyn and his wife, Marisa, engage actively with their staff through weekly work meetings and occasional social activities. In order to foster an environment of mutual trust, everyone is treated with respect and dignity and is recognised as individuals with rights and responsibilities of their own.
The De Bruyns want their staff to be proud of the role they play in the success of Vastrap Enterprises. The quality of their housing is an important part of this. In the past two years, all the staff houses have been upgraded.
“We think it is important to give consideration to their human/social needs as individuals, not just as employees,” says Marisa.
All houses have access to clean water on tap and electricity. In addition, a large communal ablution facility has been built, which includes flush toilets, baths, showers and washing facilities for men and women.
The building also has a separate playroom for all the pre-school children living on the farm. As part of their Mandela Day project last year, donations helped to create a colourful space for the kids filled with educational toys, books, a TV, DVD player and comfortable furniture.
Marisa and Quentin also believe that the spouses are an important part of the community and in recognition of this; all spouses and children are given special Christmas gifts each year.
In the next issue you can read more on how they give acknowledgment; and receive a few tips on how to get the best from your workforce.
Share you practices with fellow producers
Grain SA members are welcome to share with their fellow producers their tips and advice for good labour practices
and relations on the farm; or methods that they apply on their farms that work for them.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you.
Publication: March 2015