The recent farmworker strikes have been spreading like wildfire across South Africa’s Western Cape, and workers are demanding a wage of R150 a day, roughly double the current minimum. With Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson saying that intervention is required to improve the workers’ situation, it looks like there could be a considerable increase in the daily minimum wage.
For farmers with large workforces, this can noticeably decrease profits, making it important for them to monitor labour-related costs, and increase productivity. This is why the Time Management Solutions (TMS) software has been adopted by many of South Africa’s most successful farming businesses. TMS is a product of Farm Costing Solutions, a South African-based company offering a one-stop solution to easily record and manage all costs on a farm.
What is TMS?
The TMS system is an easy-to-use, time saving means to electronically record and budget for labour-related costs. Along with accurately determining job costing and productivity, the TMS system is also an efficient means to log time and attendance information. Farm workers are issued a ‘tag’ that they swipe against a ‘reader’ device when they arrive at work and leave in the evening, so as to accurately record the number of hours worked. This information is readily available and the system interfaces with various payroll systems, such as VIP, Donkerhoek Data and Farm Costing Solutions’ own payroll product. Additionally, reports are easily accessible for absenteeism, lateness, short time, overtime, daily hours and weekly hours.
TMS is also ideal to record piece work, where workers swipe their ‘tags’ against a portable ‘reader’ when they have completed a specific task, under the supervision of a manager. The system then automatically calculates each worker’s wages based on the work they have completed, for example, the number of bags of oranges that were picked.
What are the advantages of TMS?
The TMS system offers the following benefits:
- Measuring of productivity per employee/team/farm
- Significantly decreases payroll processing time and administration work
- Saves costs through accurate monitoring
- Can be used as evidence in disciplinary hearings
- Leads to a more effective and efficient workforce
- Statistics and data are instantly available
- User friendly for farmworkers
- Customised for individual farmer needs
- Has a readily available support system of trained specialists
- Pays for itself by cost savings – excellent return on investment
Anton de Jager, manager of De Keur Estate, a fruit and vegetable farm based outside Ceres in the Western Cape, started using TMS in 1999 and explained how it has proven superior to other systems. “It saves us a significant amount of time and it is much more accurate than the manual system,” said De Jager. “Our production managers now spend much less time on administrative tasks. All costs regarding production are calculated electronically. This greatly assists with budgeting.”
Morester Farming, one of the country’s foremost exporters of table grapes, started using TMS in 2002. According to Jan Botha, general manager at Morester, the system has done more than just save the business time. “The TMS system has saved us a considerable amount of money,” said Botha. “I would definitely say we have seen a good return on investment.”
Part of this saving comes from improved productivity, catalysed by the system’s identification of unproductive workers. “Within a day you can immediately identify the weak or unproductive workers in a team, and either give them additional training or get rid of them,” said Botha.
For Boschkrans Farming, a grains and fruit farm 200km from Johannesburg, TMS has improved overall labour administration. “Each worker is paid for exactly the number of hours he or she has worked,” said Johan van Zyl, owner of Boschkrans. “It can also effectively record overtime. When there is a dispute about wages, we can show the worker the exact time that he or she clocked in and out.”
From its head office in Cape Town, Farm Costing Solutions serves farmers across Africa. For more details contact Fritz Wesson or Val Harker at: