English: The expansion of the South African deciduous fruit export sector in the context of
globalisation in the early 1990s has led to changing patterns of employment on fruit
farms. Producers have downsized their permanent on-farm labour forces and begun to
employ various categories of flexible off-farm labour, particularly contract labour. This
discussion examines the implications of this restructuring of employment for two groups
of women working on Western Cape fruit farms — those still working and living on
the farms and those who have recently been transformed into off-farm contract labourers.
The research findings on which this discussion is based suggest that, while the
consequences are contradictory for both groups of women, female contract workers are
particularly vulnerable to risk and livelihood deprivation while having very limited
access to institutional social protection.