N2 highway protests: Grabouw farmworkers' 'R250 per day' strike set to continue

2019-05-14 20:43
Police in Grabouw keep an eye on protesters. (Kamva Somdyala)

Police in Grabouw keep an eye on protesters. (Kamva Somdyala)

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Grabouw residents in the Western Cape say they will continue to support striking farm workers at Oak Valley Estates.

Workers at the estate began their protest, organised by the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers' Union (CSAAWU) on May 6.

On Monday, residents blocked the N2 highway near Sir Lowry's Pass. 

The workers' demands include a pay increase from the R162 minimum daily wage to R250; single quarter accommodation to be converted to family units, and a scrapping of labour brokers.

Caleb Phula of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) said he was disappointed at the "arrogance of employers" regarding the demands.

"The bosses are arrogant, yet people have been working for them for years now," Phula said.

"The fight is with Oak Valley Estates and community members will continue to support them [the workers]."

When News24 arrived at the protest, residents had scattered. Teargas canisters and rubber bullet casings were strewn all over the street. Public order police officers were on the scene.

Oak Valley stated that it fully complies with the National Minimum Wage Act.

The estate said it also provides additional benefits to employees at no cost, including free transport to and from work, rent-free housing with subsidised electricity as well as production and annual bonuses, among other benefits.

The estate has also raised concerns about the "intimidation and violence" from the worker's union and striking employees.

"Oak Valley urges CSAAWU and its employees to strike peacefully and respect the rights of others. CSAAWU must take sufficient action to prevent their members from engaging in violent and unlawful action," the estate said in a statement.

The Western Cape branch of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was present in Grabouw on Tuesday.

SAHRC provincial manager, Lwethu Yoli addressed protesting members, telling them that he was there to make sure that a peaceful resolution is reached. 

He explained that as a commission, "we need to be present whenever protest action happens so that we make sure that the right to protest does not infringe on other people's rights, for example, the closing of the N2". 

Read more on:    protests
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