N1 remains closed in De Doorns

2013-01-18 08:31

Cape Town - The N1 highway remained closed at De Doorns, the epicentre of a farmworker strike, on Friday morning, Western Cape police said.

Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said there were no reports of violence but groups of people had gathered in the area.

Traffic was being diverted through the town.

Thousands of striking workers marched for kilometres along the same stretch of highway on Thursday afternoon, braving extreme heat to protest for a daily wage of R150 and a coherent land programme.

The march was led by the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi), which represented a large number of non-unionised workers.

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that Agri SA honour commitments to "local-level" agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the suspension excluded De Doorns, because workers there were standing by their demands and were not open to negotiation.

The agriculture department estimated the number of permanent and seasonal workers in the province at around 200 000.

Of these, only five percent were said to be unionised.

  • kalabafazi - 2013-01-18 08:41

    Every single one of those protesters that is on the N1 should be arrested for breaking the law. It is illegal to willfully prevent the flow of traffic on a public road. It is also illegal to walk along a major freeway. It's time the police started enforcing the law instead of "monitoring the situatuion".

      Jeremy - 2013-01-18 09:15

      I agree completely. The N1 is the main road between Joburg and Cape Town. Barring natural disasters (such as the Laingsburg floods in 1981), it should be a priority to keep it open at all times.

      kimard - 2013-01-18 09:19

      and who is cleaning up that pigsty - they should be charged with vandalism (something they are known for) blooming pigs

      Glen.E.Huysamer - 2013-01-18 09:44

      It is better in the long run for the protestors to run their course without provocation or interference. Short term over reaction to volatile mass action has the possibility of spreading to other areas that are not necessarily involved. As long as nobody is getting hurt let the frustrated take out their frustrations. No police or civilians are getting physically harmed and it is not for the government to turn on its own people. This is not Libya or Syria and time is in the hands of those who continue to remain organized and show constrained while trying to find an amicable way forward. There is no rush, things are not going to change overnight for anybody. Patience is the game strategy.

      marilyn.docherty.9 - 2013-01-18 10:12

      The protesters should be made to clean up the mess they have made!!!

  • philip.rubin.77 - 2013-01-18 08:59

    Agree kalabafazi. Imagine ever one of the 100's of various work-force groupings, unions, industries etc. blockaded a highway when they had a grievance, the whole country would come to a standstill! Take your issues where they belong and follow legal processes, but leave our public infrastrucure alone. One day farmworkers wont be able to do THEIR work because of someone else and they (farmworkers) wont get their pay either, then they will realise what it feels like. There should be zero tolerance for hijacking the country this way, regardless of the cause.

  • Michael Hawthorne - 2013-01-18 09:12

    No arrests? Fail to see how the peaceful protesters that chained themselves to eskom immediately got arrested?

      Flippncool - 2013-01-18 09:20

      Good point!

  • hudayfah.newman - 2013-01-18 09:22

    Not too long ago ehreinrich and nosey wouldn't pi** on each other due to nosey being involved in some big money deal for self enrichment. Now that they have a common enemy they seem to be getting along very well. Maybe nosey gave him a share of the cut too.

  • Flippncool - 2013-01-18 09:22

    How many of those folk are actual farm workers, and how many are just unemployed thugs I wonder? What if I stopped my car in the middle of the N1 and threw stones at passing cars because I'm annoyed at SARS, would they just "monitor" my situation and close the road off - or would they whack me on the head and drag me to jail? Yah.

      womba.wonder - 2013-01-18 09:28

      Does it matter? Some are bona fide workers and the rest are supporters, hangers-on and people just there for the thrill of being part of something exciting.

      warren.rodel - 2013-01-18 10:00

      I agree, maybe shoot them.

  • warren.rodel - 2013-01-18 09:46

    Victims of what exactly?

  • rob.bayliss.94 - 2013-01-18 09:49

    It is about time that workers were made to understand that their labour has a value. It is a value determined by supply and demand, but an individual's value is also impacted by their output and contribution to the functioning of the organisation that they work for. Striking is a legitimate tool towards negotiating settlements provided it is is used in a legal manner. No worker should be victimized for taking part in a declared legal strike conducted in a legitimate manner. These idiots may force a wage increase, but they have done so outside strike legal framework, they have damaged property and caused illegal disruptions, they have also reduced their individuyal value to their employers and I HOPE will be subjected to discriminatory sanctions aimed at redressing the damage and loss and ensuring that in future they do not get work in that area.

      womba.wonder - 2013-01-18 10:41

      The unions will keep ramping up the cost of ending the strike. Already they have made it a firm condition of ending the strike that there will be no action taken against those who have been striking. And the employers have had a small taste of the expensive havoc the union can unleash at the drop of a hat. Playing hardball will hurt the most those who have the most to lose. And that would always be the farmers -- who can lose not only their livelihood (like the labourers) but also their property and their solvency. And the strikers know this. They cannot be bluffed or intimidated.

      rob.bayliss.94 - 2013-01-18 10:46

      womba.....but then the longer term answer for the farmers is to reduce their dependancy on labour. For the farmers to continue as they are, but under constant threat of disruption and cost inflation cannot be either sustainable or satisfying. Somehow the balance between owner and labour has to be restored, and to do that the owner has to show that he is not toothless!

  • amanda.matthews.14811 - 2013-01-18 09:56

    @ womba.wonder and how would you know? I reckon you dont even live in S.A. Exciting??? Really???? Well come on over and go to De Doorns and speak to the Farmers and their Farmworkers before you make utterly insensitive remarks. A friend of mine who was a Farm Manager up until Wednesday had to leave the Farm she was managing for her own safety. She is now jobless. She was grieved that she had to leave the Poor Little Bushmen on the Farm after their homes were razed to the ground by the migrant workers. All she could do was to offer them the sheds to sleep under. You are totally ignorant of what is really going on here. Stay safe in Oz!

      womba.wonder - 2013-01-18 10:35

      Of course it's a thrill to taunt the authorities -- naughty kids often do it at school all the time and get their kicks from it. It's nothing new. If you haven't encountered this kind of thrill-seeking behaviour you must have led an impossibly sheltered life. (And I know as well as you (or even better) about "what is really going on here"!)

      rob.bayliss.94 - 2013-01-18 12:20

      womba: your point about childish behaviour is indeed enlightening. In that case the most effective action is to set firm and inviolate boundaries to the childish behaviour and enforce said boundries. Without boundaries children will always be disruptive, and more to the point will always test pseudo boundaries to the absolute which point they get stick. Rather set firm boundaries as soon as possible

  • gembleton1 - 2013-01-18 10:58

    Police start doing your job here , these people are breaking your laws.

  • Wally - 2013-01-18 10:58

    I need some understanding regarding this matter. This is an issue to be dealt with at national level as it involves a Sectoral Determination. It is not just as simple as blaming the farmers. Having said that, I am not advocating that the wages are fair or not. I want to know why the Western Cape Farms are targeted; why the towns in the WC are turned into ruin over wages for farm workers...yes, Ms Joemat-Petterson, it is in fact an issue regarding labour and nothing else and is NOT the DA's issue to resolve (I am not a DA supporter, plz!)? Are there different minimum wages in different provinces for farm workers? If so, why did the Minister not address this on National level? If not, why is COSATU and Govt so intent on standing behind these irresponsible acts of destruction and violence and then being so arrogant to blame it on the farmers and Agriforum and who ever else? Mr Ehrenreich is intent that the strikes will gain more momentum because THE FARMERS do not agree to their demands. What the hell hapened to negotiations? Did they even consider to bother themselves with the plight of the BLACK farmers who cannot come to the table and meet these huge demands in their frail state? Plz, I am asking these questions as it concerns our country. I am not a farmer and not living in the WC. We cannot allow our country to turn into a continuous bloodbath so that some may score political points. I am convinced that the thuggery is committed by ppl who are NOT working on farms bar few.

  • alex.richards.94064 - 2013-01-18 13:18

    okay, what can we mess up next?? the rand's value so that it can be viable to earn zim dollars?

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