Farmworkers defy call to return to work

2012-11-15 12:33

Wolseley - Striking Western Cape farmworkers defied a government call to return to work on Thursday, with labourers demanding action against a police captain over the death of one of their colleagues.

Workers in the town of Wolseley - earlier the scene of deadly violence - marched through the town early on Thursday, chanting and singing, despite government announcements that the strike had been suspended.

Cosatu had earlier announced that workers would freeze the strike for two weeks while the sector's R70 minimum wage is reviewed.

‘Strike not over’

But protesters have insisted they will not return to the fruit-growing region's farms until they receive a daily wage of at least R150.

"It's not over for us. We are continuing no matter what. We are going forward no matter what," said 19-year-old seasonal fruit farmworker Mandla Betshe.

"It's just a wish for them [for it] to be over."

"The strike is not finished," insisted Pieter Opperman, 38, who earns R80 a day.

"If we get that settlement of R150, I will go back to work with all my heart. Because then I know I can put food on the table for my family and I can sort myself out."

The scene early on Thursday was tense, with a heavy police presence.

‘Volatile’ situation

A worker delegation handed a list of demands to police including the suspension of the local police captain, after 28-year-old Michael Daniels was killed in clashes.

"The most important thing is... who gave the order to shoot. Obviously someone has to take responsibility," said Lamie Mqungquthu, part of the worker delegation.

"Our aim today is to make peace with the police, they must leave the people because all of us have a right" to protest, he said.

Police described the situation as "volatile", with disturbances in the towns of De Doorns, Ceres and Swellendam.

"Police officers are deployed at all affected areas to maintain law and order, and to protect the public," said Lieutenant Colonel André Traut of the Western Cape police.

  • carol.otto.94 - 2012-11-15 13:00

    Give them R150.00 per day and then charge them rent and electricity - no doubt the farmers covers that expence at the moment.

      nrgx.nrg - 2012-11-15 14:10

      and garnish salaries to repair the damage THEY caused. I agree,... Give them the R150, and as mentioned, they must pay elec, rent and for the damage. Will end where they began because they cannot reason like an adult HUMAN being.

  • eland.snitbul - 2012-11-15 14:13

    Natuurlik kan mense staak en goed afbrand en mal gaan sonder om enige nagevolge te he, hulle het self die persoon wat oorlede is in gevaar gestel deur hulle optrede. Ek glo enige polisielid of selfs persoon wat in die polisie se posisie is sal als doen om hulle eie lewens te verdedig in so 'n geweldadige staking. Die feit dat ons 'n regering het met geen intensies om die onskuldiges te beskerm nie veroorsaak dat mense die wet in hulle eie hande moet vat.

  • Adielie - 2012-11-15 14:15

    The most shocking thing about this for me, is they get immunity for their crimes, and that the police keeps on getting blamed for doing their jobs. the guy that died was "buying groceries", yeah right, in the middle of a strike.

      george.pistorius - 2012-11-15 14:51

      So that means R70 is enough if he can go and buy groceries!!!

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