Police take on protesting farmworkers

2013-01-10 12:19
Protesting farmworkers (File, AFP)

Protesting farmworkers (File, AFP)

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De Doorns - Police fired rubber bullets to repel hundreds of rock-throwing farmworkers during a strike for higher wages on Thursday, during a second day of violence in the normally calm and picturesque Winelands.

Police and farmworkers fought running battles along the N1 highway, halting traffic and shutting off a number of towns.

Protesters near De Doorns set barricades on fire and threw rocks, stones and debris at police vehicles, prompting officers in riot gear to respond with a volley of rubber bullets and tear gas.

Protesters were dispersed but rapidly re-gathered, in a game of cat and mouse that has rocked Africa's main wine producing region.

Farmworkers in the Western Cape on Wednesday launched a fresh round of industrial action to press for the doubling of their wages.

Thousands of labourers have downed tools after wage negotiations collapsed following last month's work stoppage that left two people dead.

Workers who pick and pack fruit on farms in the region are demanding a wage hike from R69 to R150 a day.

The latest bout of industrial action follows unprecedented work stoppages in the country's key mining industry that turned violent late last year leaving more than 50 people dead.

Of those killed, 34 were shot dead by police in one day.

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