We've been left in the dark: AgriSA

By Drum Digital
16 January 2013

Employer body Agri-SA on Wednesday said it had not been contacted by Cosatu regarding a plan to extend a recent wage deal brokered between farmers and their workers in Clanwilliam, in the Western Cape.

"Except through the media, we've heard nothing from the Congress of SA Trade Unions or [provincial secretary] Tony Ehrenreich regarding the deal," labour relations head Elize van der Westhuizen said.

"This deal is typical of what we've asked our members to do since last year, where they engage directly with farmworkers and negotiate terms."

On Tuesday, Ehrenreich announced that a daily wage deal of R105 had been brokered with a "significant amount" of farmers in Clanwilliam.

"This agreement represents a model agreement that would be used in the other areas and towns... as soon as an agreement is concluded in a town, then that town would be exempted from strike action," he said in a statement.

He said Cosatu would encourage workers to suspend the strike if Agri-SA acknowledged the Clanwilliam agreement, the space provided for it in law and give an undertaking to ensure no disciplinary action was taken against striking workers.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week.

Ehrenreich said Agri-SA had to respond to his request by 1pm on Wednesday should they want the strike to be possibly suspended.

"This represents a significant move forward and puts the ball squarely in the court of the Agri-SA to accept the terms and secure a suspension to the strike, as a matter of urgency," he said.

Van der Westhuizen asked that Cosatu first contact Agri-SA with information about his request before taking any action.

Agri Wes-Kaap spokeswoman Porschia Adams said it had also not heard from Cosatu or Ehrenreich.

To her knowledge, the wage deal was agreed to by one farmer who owned a number of farms, rather than multiple farmers.

Ehrenreich was not immediately available to comment.

Cosatu in Limpopo said they fully supported the demands of workers for better living and working conditions.

Provincial administrator Mamodula Kgabo called on employers to accept the demands and for government to further research the conditions of such workers.

Principal provincial inspector Jacques Mostert said the N1 was closed at De Doorns, the epicentre of protest action.

He said motorists would have to take the Orchards offramp to get to De Doorns.

On Wednesday morning, there were reports of stones being thrown at cars by protesters in Wolseley.

Mostert said no casualties were reported.


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