Police arrest 7 armed men as striking farmworkers agree to return to work

2012-12-05 09:10

Police arrested seven armed men as farm workers agreed to return to work.

The men, suspected to be members of the far-right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), were found with one firearm and 60 rounds of ammunition at a roadblock leading to the epicentre of the farmworkers’ strike yesterday.

Regional police spokesperson Andre Traut said the suspects aged between 33 and 66 years “were driving in the direction of De Doorns when their vehicle was searched”.

It was in De Doorns – outside Cape Town – that last month’s unrest began, leaving two dead and vineyards burnt.

The strike by farmworkers in the Western Cape has ended, Cosatu said on Tuesday evening.

Congress of SA Trade Unions provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said last night in a statement: “An agreement put forward by Agri SA contains the basis of the accord that ends this strike.”

He said Agri SA, which represented farmers, “essentially commits” itself to negotiations to be held farm-by-farm. Talks would be about the wage demand of a R150 per day, and a profit-sharing scheme.

“This agreement means that workers will return to work and join any union of their choice,” said Ehrenreich.

“These unions will negotiate with the farmers on the different farms.”

If no agreement was reached by January 9, workers on those farms would strike again.

“This agreement represents a huge victory for farmworkers,” he said.

Table grape harvesters started protesting in De Doorns at the start of November for R150 per day and improved living conditions.

Most earned between R69 and R75 a day. The protests soon spread to 15 other towns.

Representatives from Agri SA, the agriculture department and unions were expected to brief the media today.

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