City claims it never denied march

2013-03-01 18:06
Striking farmworkers (Picture: AFP)

Striking farmworkers (Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - The City of Cape Town did not deny permission for a coalition of farmworkers to march to Parliament at the weekend, an official said on Friday.

City spokesperson Kylie Hatton said that in a meeting with the police and the applicant, the Trust for Community Outreach and Education, it was pointed out that there were two other marches happening on Saturday.

"They then decided to move the march to Sunday. At that point the convenor, Gavin Joachims, contacted the City to advise that they wanted to postpone their march to 23 March," she said.

Farmworkers had wanted to march on Saturday against farmers' "ongoing efforts" to undermine the new minimum wage for workers.

On Thursday, the coalition claimed the City and police service had refused them permission, claiming a shortage of police officers.

It said: "There is no such shortage when events such as the Soccer World Cups are happening... This is clearly a political decision to frustrate the legitimate struggles of farmworkers."

Hatton said the trust was asked to cancel their original march request and submit a new request, which they did.

"They postponed it on their own terms," she said.

The new minimum wage requirement for farmworkers came into effect this Friday.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced on 4 February that the minimum wage for farmworkers would increase to R105 a day, from R69, with an increase of inflation plus 1.5% in subsequent years.

The decision to increase the minimum wage was made after a series of violent protests by Western Cape farmworkers.

Labour department spokesperson Page Boikanyo urged farmers to comply with the new wage.

"We believe most farmers will comply, but we emphasise that those who are unable to pay should apply for relief.

"Government has this mechanism in place to provide support for those who really can't afford it," he said.

Boikanyo said the department's focus was to process the applications it received from farmers, but said it was unclear how long this process would take.

He could not immediately say how many applications for assistance the department had received.

Farmers seeking relief would need to submit their books to the department to prove their financial distress.

Read more on:    mildred oliphant  |  cape town  |  farmworker protests

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