Truck hijacked in De Doorns, set alight

2013-01-12 20:23

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80+ arrested in farmworkers protest

2013-01-11 09:26

More than 80 striking farmworkers in the Western Cape have been arrested as protests for 2013 reached went into its second day. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - Riot police kept watch amid tensions in the Western Cape winelands on Saturday as talks continued to end a deadlock between striking farmworkers and employers.

Authorities recorded only one incident of violence in a second day of general calm following two days of wage demonstrations. These saw police unload a barrage of rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas at hundreds of stone-throwing protesters.

"This morning at around 06:00 in De Doorns three people wearing balaclavas hijacked a truck after the driver had picked up farm workers," said police spokesperson November Filander.

The hijackers then set fire to the truck after driving to a nearby town, he told AFP.

Police arrested 125 people for public violence since the strikes started on Wednesday, said Filander.

Strike continues

The provincial leader of Cosatu said stoppages would carry on.

"There's been no solution, the strike continues," Tony Ehrenreich told AFP.

"There will be wage settlements in different areas," he said.

But one farmer accused the unions of playing politics.

"I earlier offered them R105 a day. I renewed the offer this time round and [the unions] said it could work," said Gerhard de Kock, a prominent farmer in De Doorns.

"But they're not interested in a deal. They want to change the minimum wage to R105. They want to show the government the figure is affordable," De Kock told AFP.

Around 80% of permanent farm workers have shunned the strike, according to farmers.

Workers currently earn R69 a day. Angry at abysmal living standards and vast wealth disparities between white landowners and black labourers, they are demanding a doubling of minimum wages to R150 a day - a figure farmers say they can't afford.

So far talks to end the violent wage dispute have stumbled amid the constraints of existing wage agreements, power struggles among unions and differing stances taken by individual farmers.

 

 


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Read more on:    cosatu  |  tony ehrenreich  |  cape town  |  agriculture  |  labour  |  farmworker protests  |  strikes  |  protests
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