Farmworkers march without incident

2012-11-12 18:50

Johannesburg - De Doorns farmworkers held a peaceful protest march on Monday afternoon, Western Cape police said.

Workers left peacefully at the end of the march, said spokespersonn Lybey Swartz.

She said Congress of SA Trade Unions Western Cape head Tony Ehrenreich addressed them and they dispersed afterwards.

Swartz said the N1 road remained closed to traffic from Worcester up to Touws River, and an alternative route via Ceres was advised.

By 16:30, she had not been told whether the road had reopened.

Workers in the area have been protesting since last Monday about their working conditions and pay. At times during the protest, they have closed the road and burnt vineyards.

On Monday, police arrested 11 people, when a group of around 80, carrying sticks and pangas, intimidated farmworkers and prevented them from going to work.

"We took action," said Colonel André Traut.

He would not elaborate.

Breede Valley Ward Four councillor Pat Marran said the police fired teargas and rubber bullets and entered people's houses.

Groups of people with knobkerries had gathered in the area and they told the police to leave, he said, adding that the police responded by chasing them.

The people then went and threw stones on the N1, closing the road.

Afterwards, a meeting was called with the police. Marran said he attended as a community leader.

"I convinced the police that I, as a community leader, would calm people, but that the police must withdraw, keep a distance and not provoke action, which they did," he said.

The situation was then "calm", he said.

He said there was a meeting on Saturday between various parties and Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. It was agreed that decisions taken at the meeting would be communicated to people in De Doorns on Monday.

However the actions on Monday had made people think the police were trying to stop them.

Farms Marikana

Cosatu in the Western Cape said farmworkers in the region would strike in solidarity with those on strike in De Doorns on Tuesday.

"Other farmworkers, seasonal workers and communities will come out on strike and take solidarity action in support of the demand for a living wage of R150 per day," it said.

"Marikana has come to farms," it said, referring to a lengthy strike at Lonmin platinum mine, in North West, which spread to other platinum and gold mines in the region. Police opened fire on striking Lonmin workers, killing 34 of them near the mine on 16 August.

The call to action was to workers in De Doorns, Wellington, and "farm workers across the country".

Cosatu said that on Monday morning, unions, community organisations, NGOs and farmworker committees had formed a coalition which would co-ordinate a campaign for better wages and working conditions on farms.

It would be headed by Ehrenreich.

Hex Valley Table-grape farmers' spokesperson Michael Loubser said permanent workers returned to work on Monday.

However, some workers had stayed away out of fear about what would happen to them if they reported to work

"Ninety percent of the permanent workers are back," he said.

The Workers International Vanguard Party claimed workers' low wages were "set by the ANC government, continuing old slaves wages".

It claimed that their conditions of work included not being paid at all out of season and not being able to claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Joemat-Pettersson was reportedly going to hold urgent meetings on Monday and Tuesday about the minimum daily wage of R69 for farmworkers.

  • SharonE - 2012-11-12 18:55

    You know you're in the new South Africa when: A peaceful protest makes headline news, because it is the exception, not the rule.

      Riaan Venter - 2012-11-12 19:14


      tim.gordon.5011516 - 2012-11-12 19:30

      Seems if they try reeaallllly hard they can do things in a civilized manner.

      silenta.solly - 2012-11-13 08:43

      We know those are not farm workers they are the ANCYL trying to make the WC ungovernable - isn't this what De Lille said last week?

  • nicolaas.vanschalkwyk.5 - 2012-11-12 19:13

    Ag please this is nothing more than a lame ass attempt by the ANC to cause instabiltiy in the promise to try and take over the province. Wasnt it the ANCYL that said they will make the province ungovernable?These protesters should be locked up.

      silenta.solly - 2012-11-13 08:45

      Yes we know these are not farm workers, it's the ANCYL as usual..... These farm workers get paid more than they deserve i mean R70 a day that could feed both my family and your family, they are just being greedy to ask for R150......aren't they?

  • mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-12 19:28

    I see E-News (ENCA) keeps pointing to the possibility of this De Doorns protest expanding to other farming areas. This New24 article quotes Cosatu as saying "Marikana has come to farms,". In their dreams I think - and in my nightmares, which are thankfully a fiction enacted during sleep. Agriculture is relatively free of Unionism, despite mighty efforts, because of distance and geography, which makes it all too expensive for the Unions to be able to corner their hated steriotypical "Commercial Farmer". A frustrating business for them and the SA ANC Government, to be sure.

      Adil Smit - 2012-11-12 20:11

  • Strikeback - 2012-11-12 19:34

    Protesters who partake in illegal actions are crimminals. Arson is a crime. Intimmidation is a crime. Inciting violence is a crime. Obstructing or damaging public roads is a crime. Now where do all their rights come from? COSATU instigates all the above when they come out in support of any illegal action. Time to take back control.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-13 10:37

      paying people 70rand a day is a crime you absolute waste of space

  • Gatvol Griet - 2012-11-12 19:52

    Shocking that, after 30yrs a man is paid only R65 a day. As an ex-farmer I don't see how this can be.

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-12 20:02

      Not sure where you get your information Griet, but I hope you are not suggesting that Workers of 30 years service only gets R65. I am, unfortunately sure one may find isolated cases like this, but generally, no way!

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-12 23:53

      Not on my farm kagiso booi.

      silenta.solly - 2012-11-13 08:47

      Rustic how much are your farm workers getting? R150 a day? I doubt

  • Adil Smit - 2012-11-12 20:05

  • - 2012-11-12 20:33

    is our govrmt lazy an dump?daie sims 2 only tak action wen ppl matches.daie nid 2 learn 4rm china gvrm if they nid 2 imprv

      silenta.solly - 2012-11-13 08:48

      First go learn English and how to write, then come and comment.

      marc.ross.965 - 2012-11-13 10:43

      Silenta you are a idiot. Razapo is trying to make a comment, and English in not the home language. You try comment in Zulu or Xhosa.The comment is that the government is lazy and dumb. Look at the Chinese work ethic if our people want to improve. Can you fault that? Razapo please do not take notice of Silenta, this country needs all of us to make our voices heard. Even if we disagree.

  • annette.vorster.54 - 2012-11-12 20:35

    So the manufacturers of the panga, that laid lame thousands of colonial cattle by the MAU-MAU in Kenya, have finally arrived at africa's most southern province! Who must we thank? Caertainly not the lady from the zuma empire who was so "good" at immigration, she was pushed, at our expense, to become Queen of all Africa! . . . .john vorster

  • CHRISTOS52 - 2012-11-12 20:40

    Workers in South Africa strike for a living wage , mining , farming and who's next - sec...... Industry ?

  • nicky.tyrrell - 2012-11-13 09:36

    People in general do not know that the farm workers wages are not simply R85.00 a day, in most cases they get housing,free water, sanitation and in some cases electricity as well (not all cases)then there is the matter of us ALWAYS being willing to take our staff into doctors and their children and giving them produce off the fields, it all adds up believe me.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-13 10:40

      my goodness nicky isnt that just generous... getting paid 65 rand a day i hope you bladdy cooking them gourmet meals and giving them foot rubs at the end of a hard days work

      paul.malherbe.7 - 2012-11-14 08:16

      yeah, take away these "insignificant worthless" perks and give them R150 a day and see if that's better!! No, we want our cake and eat it.

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