CCMA offers help in Western Cape strike

2013-01-12 22:19
Striking farmworkers hurl rocks at police during protests in De Doorns in the Western Cape. (Sapa)

Striking farmworkers hurl rocks at police during protests in De Doorns in the Western Cape. (Sapa)

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Cape Town - The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has offered to intervene in the strike by farmworkers in the Western Cape over wage increases.

"We have the authority to intervene, and the skills and experience to mediate a solution," executive director Nerine Kahn said on Saturday.

"We have offered our services - which we are empowered to do in matters of public interest - and trust that the parties will respond positively to our offer."

The CCMA said they were in a position to mediate a binding short-term agreement while the parties wait for a sectoral wage determination by the labour department.

Farmworkers in De Doorns in the Western Cape want their minimum R69 daily wage increased to R150. The strike began on 27 August last year, and was called off on December 4 and resumed on Wednesday.

Situation calm

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer November Filander said the situation in De Doorns had calmed down after a hijacking on Saturday morning.

"At 06:00 [Saturday] three suspects hijacked a truck while the driver was waiting for farmworkers he had to pick up," Filander said.

"They took the truck to the Stofland informal settlement where they petrol bombed the truck which burned out totally. No one was injured and no arrests were made."

The men were wearing balaclavas. Filander said police were monitoring the area.

The public hearings review relating to the farmworkers dispute is expected to start next week for revisions from 1 April.

"If we can reach a collective agreement soon, it will not only begin to restore calm and ensure workers can go back to work," Kahn said.

"It [the agreement] could also form the basis for a recommendation to the Minister of Labour and the Employment Conditions Commission."

Kahn called on organised business and labour to consider their offer to use the mediation services.

"We believe the interests of employers, workers and farming communities will be best served through a mediated and negotiated outcome."

Compromise

On Friday, the Western Cape Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said town-by-town discussions with farmers in the province were progressing well.

Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said workers were willing to compromise to around R110 per day.

The individual farmers agreed to a meeting organised by Cape Orchards Company chairman Gerhard de Kock. The company represents 12 farms in the De Doorns Hex River Valley, which together produce approximately three million boxes of table grapes a year.

 

- SAPA

Read more on:    cosatu  |  ccma  |  cape town  |  labour  |  farmworker protests  |  strikes
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