Police monitoring Western Cape farms

2012-11-19 12:38
Farmworkers protest in the Western Cape. (File, AFP)

Farmworkers protest in the Western Cape. (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Western Cape police were monitoring areas on Monday that were affected by recent worker protests.

"Everything seems to be quiet at this stage. There have been no reports," Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said.

"We are monitoring the situation, but things seem to have been restored [to normal]."

According to the SA National Civic Organisation, about 300 farmworkers who went on strike in Wolseley, returned to work on Friday.

Provincial general secretary Vusi Myeki said the workers agreed to suspend the strike for at least two weeks pending a decision on the farmworkers' minimum wage.

CCMA mediating talks

The labour department met various farmers' unions on Friday and negotiations are set to start Thursday.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration would mediate the talks.

The department called for interested parties to comment on a possible review of the sectoral determination for farmworkers, which prescribes minimum wages and conditions of employment.

Western Cape agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensburg on Monday urged the South African "agricultural family" to support negotiations.

" I have asked for calm in De Doorns, at Worcester, and in Ceres as the protest action spread through our province... please support all ongoing negotiations, as it is only through negotiating that solutions will be found," he said in a statement.

"We cannot start the coming week’s negotiations with the demands of unrest stokers."

Supporting farmworkers

The Coalition of Farm Worker Representatives said on Monday that only the farmworkers who started the protests in the Western Cape were allowed to call it off.

"No 'one' organisation or... group called it and no one can therefore call it off except the workers themselves," it said in a statement.

"We reject with contempt the suggestion by among others [Western Cape Premier] Helen Zille that the strike is the outcome of interventions by outside forces."

It said that some striking workers had returned to work, while others continued to strike.

"Our immediate task is to support farmworkers whether they are back at work or still striking."

The coalition said on Sunday that it gave government until December 4 to institute a wage of R150 per day and concede to worker demands.

"If they do not do so, 4 December will see the intensification of protest actions, both in scope and in militancy," it said.

"Let there be no doubt - farm workers are not going to calm down and reconcile to the same old slavery conditions. There will be change."

"We do not want violence, but we cannot say the same of the police."

R150/ day demanded

The organisation also demanded the release of farmworkers who had been arrested for intimidation and public violence during the strike.

On Friday, protesters looted shops and torched businesses in the Hex River Valley and roads in the province, including the N2, were blockaded with rocks and burning tyres.

Protests over wages in the province spread across the Boland, with table grape harvesters demanding R150 a day. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day.

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