Joemat-Pettersson urges end to violence

2012-11-14 07:25

Johannesburg - Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has called for an end to the violence in the De Doorns area, where workers are on strike in demand of better pay and working conditions.

She was commenting after being asked by their representatives and unions to escalate their demands to an inter-ministerial meeting to review the minimum wage for the entire agriculture sector.

"The farmworkers' unions said they were willing to abandon the strikes for two weeks until a solution to the wage issue was found," Joemat-Pettersson said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Farmworkers in the area went on strike last week. They are asking for R150 per day in wages.

"The farmworker unions demanded that workers should be paid a minimum of R80 per day in wages with immediate effect. The workers were also urged to go to work tomorrow [Wednesday]," she said.

Challenge for government

Joemat-Pettersson said rising food prices and food insecurity made it impossible for people to live on R70 a day and that intervention was needed to improve the situation.

She said inequality, unemployment and poverty would never be eliminated if vulnerable workers were not paid decent wages and their living conditions were not improved.

"The challenge is on us as government to ensure that when we speak of a developmental country we address the triple challenges and how we can eradicate them."

Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said the largest disruptions were in De Doorns, Ceres, Robertson, Prince Alfred Hamlet and Somerset West.

Police had erected roadblocks, detours and barricades in areas for the public's protection.

On Tuesday, a policeman had to be hospitalised after being hit on the head by a stone thrown by a protester. On Monday, 10 people were arrested for public violence and intimidation.

In the Western Cape's Witzenburg municipality, protesting farm workers had caused damaged estimated at R500 000, municipal spokesperson Anette Radjoo said on Tuesday.

Minimum wage

"Property damage has been sustained including the destruction of a packing shed, veld fires, damage to farming crops, burning of tyres in streets and throwing of stones," she said.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union of SA (Tau-SA) said it had advised its members not to pay workers less than the minimum wage.

"The problems of De Doorns cannot be made the problem of the entire agricultural industry," it said.

"We encourage workers to seek work and to accept service where they receive the best salary."

Increasing minimum wages in agriculture would lead to further dismissals, it said.

  • jannie.devos.56 - 2012-11-14 07:32

    I find it most interesting that the people with the real problems, the UNemployed, are so quiet. Maybe it is because rallying them would not be in the interest of the government. It will only make them look bad. It is all simply destabilizing tactics by Fransman & Co. How brainless, in any case, to destroy the vineyards. No vineyards, no crops. No crops, no jobs. No jobs NO money. Eish...

      charlesbronson.bronson - 2012-11-14 07:53

      They are all the same these government and cANCer bafoons! Corrupt useless tax thief's like there leader Jacob "Compound" Zuma!!

      art5SA - 2012-11-14 08:09

      This whole "PROTEST/CRIMINAL" move is INSTIGATED by COSATU!!! That IDIOT Erenriech, is behing it all! No crops..... NO JOBS! No crops..... NO TAXES! No crops...... NO FARMERS!

      NickvanGraan - 2012-11-14 08:32

      One can't help feeling that wages is just a very small part of this. I am starting to get the stench of unions and the ANC cashing in, using it as an opportunity to destabilise that region, a bit like what is happening in the mining sector.

      koos.vandermerwe.75 - 2012-11-14 09:45

      @NickvanGraan: It is called: The prelude to nationalization.

      zambezi.river - 2012-11-14 09:50

      Let the GOVERNMENT subsidize one half of the wages!

      richard.hipkin - 2012-11-14 10:51

      The minister this morning said on live TV, "...when WE call off the strike..."!!! Really minister? Who's "WE"? The DA are quite correct by implying this is political. The WC is not the only province with farms but the only province who has protests.. But wait, other provinces will start becoming opportunistic and this little "ungovernability" stunt by COSATU and the ANC will backfire on them...

  • blip.noodlum - 2012-11-14 07:36

    Make a speech and pass that off as "working"...

  • ingrid.oberholzer - 2012-11-14 07:38

    She said the labour minister is out of the country, I would like to know where do they all go and what vasts amount of knowledge do they bring back to pass on becuase this is definately not happening in any of the departments, the country is in a state of severe crisis.

  • andrew.mackie.90 - 2012-11-14 07:39

    This minister once again has proved to be worthless, she urges an end to violence and what good does this do, sitting in her office in Pretoria. The ANC taught people to destroy and damage property in the past and now this action is ongoing to the detriment of the economy. This minister should be at the coal face meeting with all parties to find and fix the problems. As the minister for agriculture she should be aware of the costs involved for farming and seek to find a solution to the minimal pay being paid to these workers.

      art5SA - 2012-11-14 08:10

      How this person became a Minister is BEYOND COMPREHENSION!!! If there EVER was a useless piece of human waste... SHE IS IT!

  • gary.desousa.7 - 2012-11-14 07:45

    I wonder if all this uproar is "seasonal" workers from other countries or local workers? as Im sure the seasonal ones would want to work and take their money home. If its local unionized workers why id the union and farmers not meeting, agreeing or not agreeing on wages like most other industries and abiding by the outcome,if they want to strike let them do it off farms,peacefully or lock them up,the seasonal ones want to work im sure. This is nothing more than mass violent mob action and is condemmed but dont worry, table grapes can be got all over the world from other countries.

  • mikel.kiparski - 2012-11-14 07:46

    UNEMPLOYMENT HERE WE COME,we who provide the work are gatvol,time 2 mechanize,or get out all 2gether,i am now semmi retired i dont need kids have left so there is no one 2 take over from me,i am tired of taking blood pressure medication.

  • richard.lemmer1 - 2012-11-14 07:48

    This has absolutely no bearing on wages ! She goes there in a volatile area and congratulate the strikers on standing up for their rights ! I am sure the farmers can pay them more if they can demand prices for their produce. They have to hear what seed , fertilizer , fuel , wages , transport , etc are. They also then find out how much they will get for their product ! The whole farming industry is already on knifes edge ! We are quickly following a Zim route !!

      terrylee.heuer - 2012-11-14 07:53

      You are so right Richard this has nothing to do with wages (Mantashe said so himself) in fact the Labour Dept from the WC had made a visit to this farm and found that the workers were paid above the minimum wage that is set by the Dept so I really don't know what the issue is??!! If the Unions are not happy they must sit down with the Minister of Labour and discuss the wages!!! To me this is all political!!!

      Desilusionada - 2012-11-14 08:00

      "rising food prices and food insecurity made it impossible for people to live on R70 a day and that intervention was needed to improve the situation." This rich from a Government representative of the same government that cannot keep farmers safe and has run the economy into a state that the input costs of farming is beyond control. So who is responsible?.......

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-11-14 07:56

    She is just so out of it,it is unbelievable, that this woman has this portfolio. She has had to come and clean up her fellow comrades mess. Ehrenreich and his devilish hate speech spewing crew should be arrested and she should be the one laying the charges against them for farking with her portfolio. The truth is spilling on how the ANC/Casatu Alliance have been acting as labour brokers and selling casual labour as slaves, their mistake is trying to use these people as political pawns. Soon this bunch will not be welcome as the poor begin to realize they have been duped once again by their so called political ANC leeching leaders. Now that the News hounds are snooping around ANC owned farms to record the discrepancies that excist between so called "white owned commercial farms' and others around the various provinces. Not to mention that R250million rand used on Zuma's palatial compound could have very well have built houses for all those living in shacks at the north end of DeDoorns and Grabow and then some more. The ANC/Casatu Alliance is also stalling on youth wage subsidies which the DA has requested on more than one occasion to help these very people stuck in economic limbo. A limbo created by ANCasatu owned labour brokers who shipped these people in from tribal owned land which is lying desolate under the management of Chieftains and Kings who are in cahoots with these ANC/Alliance Cadres in order to supply their youth as cheap labour. It all begins to unravel, good!?

  • Sibusiso - 2012-11-14 08:04

    How do you sleep at night knowing that you made maximum profit while cheating your workers by paying them less than minimum wage? You can only exploit people to a certain point. If I was an employer exploiting people I would have increased the salaries by at the time the mining sector was hit by strike.

      PointBlank - 2012-11-14 08:29

      how do you sleep at night knowing you voted for the government who determined these wages, but you blind racism makes you think it's the farmers. These farmers don't need pickers, they can mechanise the process and i have a feeling this will happen sooner than later, well done anc.. You attempt to destabalise the wc will backfire because it's not only the wc that has farms.

      piet.snot.77964 - 2012-11-14 09:09

      Sibusiso - so you know all the in and outs of farmers balance sheets - how do you know they made 'maximum profits' - you would be very suprised at how some farmers battle financially and how much they owe.

      antoinette.jordaan - 2012-11-14 09:41

      Why is it that the unskilled, untrained wants to earn more than the people who actually finished school, then got into debt to study? Yes, sure, pay them the minimum wage. But, do they think of the repercussions of going violent? Or burning down crops? a) it means we don't get the crops locally, and will have to import and b) UP goes the food prices. Well done. Now that increase you got is NOT GOING TO HELP. Then, farmers don't just take their profits and spend it. They have to save up for the chance that perhaps next year the crops won't be good. It's nature's call after all. So, let's say they spend ALL their profits on excellent wages, and fantastic working conditions. Next year, the crops fail completely so there's NO INCOME at all. How do you propose the farmer now pays his workers? THought of that, did we?

      richard.hipkin - 2012-11-14 10:45

      Remember sibusiso, there are also emerging farmers who now have to fork out 150 a day, they will go bankrupt soon... thanks ANC.

      zambezi.river - 2012-11-14 12:16

      In all fairness emerging farmers will be totally F@#$^%& at R150 per day unless the government can subsidize the wages they pay!

      cialb - 2012-11-14 14:59

      @ Sibusiso, I agree with you 100%. This wage is a a disgrace, and farmers do not have to comply with it, they are free to pay a decent wage if they so wish to. I cannot believe that they cannot afford to treat workers properly. Whilst I do think that there are forces out there who are making the most of this, if the workers were not unhappy in the first place, there would be no opportunity for them. Unhappy workers = revolutions. Simple as that. I blame those farmers who have misused and mistreated workers for this problem and all the terrible losses that will result from it. In a country such as ours with the inequalities that exist, it is downright irresponsible to treat your workers this way. The biggest losers will as always be the poorest people, but we will all end up paying the price this time.

  • terrylee.heuer - 2012-11-14 08:09

    The Unions obviously do not talk to their members!!! Why violenty stike against the farmer when clearly the farmer is compliant with the minimum wage of the Labour Dept!!! Go and stike at the Labour Dept office or at the Ministers mansion seriously!!! Throw stones there!! Then again I'm sure this has nothing to do with wages but to bring unrest to the WC another political move!!

      Michael - 2012-11-14 10:47

      Agreed, the minimum wage is peanuts and should probably be increased (although that is another can o' worms entirely) but i find it a bit rich how the farmers, operating fully within current labour laws, are suddenly made out to be these evil slave-drivers. It all seems very convenient...

  • farmer.brown.372019 - 2012-11-14 08:11

    These are seasonal workers being intimidated to strike, or they will be "killed" and people bussed in from CT. People slating farmers about the pay, please take in account: Government gets more tax per bottel of wine, than the farmer is paid for the grapes that make that bottle of wine - FACT. Grape prices started falling since 2005 and is still below the levels of 2005, going for the 8th season where income/ton is less than 2005, but everything else have more than doubled. Farmers provide free housing+transport+electricity+water+work clothes, they share fresh produce with workers etc etc. What other industry provides that? People will pay R11.50 for a litre bottle of Coke thats unhealthy and made in a factory, but complain paying R9/litre of milk, thats healthy and comes from an animal that must be fed and looked after - of which the farmer get maybe R3/litre if lucky? Export pomegranates, farmer get R8/kg average, of which R4/kg was packing cost alone, left with R4 per kg to pay for labour+spraying cost+fertiliser+water etc etc, but consumers pay R40/kg in shops and more? I can write a book! The public are ill informed! Farmers can't make prices, they take what is offered, otherwise your fresh product will spoil.

  • nicolas.gombert.16 - 2012-11-14 08:13

    If workers get paid R150 per day, will farmers get a guaranteed minimum price for their produce? The minister blames high food prices for the unrest but who produces the food in the first place? I get 50% less for my produce compared to last year. Farmers are not price makers, they are price takers. We have no control over input prices, electricity, diesel, fertiliser, packing material and labour are my biggest cost and all of them have gone up by much more than the inflation rate. When I walk into the supermarkets, I see my product being sold for 200% more than what I've been paid. So who makes the money? Government has regulated all our input prices yet we don't even have a guaranteed minimum price for our produce. I'm seriously considering spraying the whole lot with Roundup and then put my farm up for sale. Flowers from Kenya are dumped on the market because they can grow it much cheaper than we can in SA. Their labour gets paid much less than our minimum wage and they are man y times more productive. SA Inc. has become totally uncompetitive as we cannot even dream about competing with other countries and the main reason is the high cost of labour and low productivity. It will be much cheaper to be a beach bum than a farmer.

      piet.snot.77964 - 2012-11-14 09:18

      I agree - put up the wage to R150 - halve the workforce and double the production - if they can't double the production then reduce their wages again. The problem is that as soon as you increase the wage to R 150 then most of it will still be spent on drink - just see who well the bottle stores in the strike areas do - they will do even better!

  • mart.botha - 2012-11-14 08:19

    This is politically motivated....suggest a 'vote of no confidence in Government' and offer disenfranchised ANC members of Parliament amnesty from prosecution for crimes yet to be determined. Being forced to vote on party lines is beginning to irk those ANC members who actually want to do something positive for the people of this country. And don't forget, the ANC got 11 million in the last election in 2009.....this is 'NOT a bridge too far' if we play the cards RIGHT.

      mart.botha - 2012-11-14 08:20

      read....11 million votes.......

  • Strikeback - 2012-11-14 08:21

    "We encourage workers to seek work and to accept service where they receive the best salary." Strikeback can not improve on this statement. Well said.

      terrylee.heuer - 2012-11-14 08:27

      Strikeback you rock!!

  • kyle.r.lottering - 2012-11-14 08:35

    black people are so quick to blame the farmer, but really it is the black government that sets these low wages. And then the same government calls for a boycott, and at the same time calls for an end to the strikes? These people are so useless we need change for a better SA

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-14 08:57


      piet.snot.77964 - 2012-11-14 09:19

      Failed !!

      piet.snot.77964 - 2012-11-14 09:33

      Just joking - you have passed!

  • xanavin.vonbuchenroder - 2012-11-14 09:09

    I can guarantee you the ANC has a big role in this. It's part of their stratergy to make the W.C ungovernable(which will never happen). However I do agree that R70 per day doing hard labour in the sun is pathetic. R90/R100 per day sound more like it however serious consideration needs to be taken when agreeing on a settlement figure cos this can lead to farmers pushing up prices affecting us the consumer and also leading to farmers workers being retrenched.

  • angela.nair.3 - 2012-11-14 09:15

    The chaos that erupted in the Cape should be blamed on Joemat-Petterson and the Labour Unions - Who approved the minimum wage? It is slave wages!And how on earth can the farmers sleep at night knowing they pay their workers R69 a day - its easy to say at least these people have a job - but really? And they are uneducated - what jobs will they go back to after burning the farms? The ANC approved the minimum wage when they ran the Cape! I have been to Franschoek and surrounding cheese and wine farms - its luxurious. I am sure these farmers can afford to pay the workers a bit more? There is a skills shortage so peope take advantage of unskilled labour to enrich themselves - The Goverment is so busy taking care of themselves that they ignore the people that need them. I see a revolution coming - and we dont even have cake to offer the masses!!! The ANC is using this as a political motive - feeding the fires that will bring down the DA! The culture of destroying, burning and looting should be stopped by Govt.

  • gideon.walt - 2012-11-14 09:43

    More people should stand up against The Man and f*** the system. We all deserve a spot in the sun!

  • mc.segal.5 - 2012-11-14 13:10

    Hell please who is going to provide the food At Manguang then??

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