Farm protests political, says Agri SA

2012-11-14 17:06

Pretoria - Protests by farmworkers in the Western Cape were not only about wages, Agri SA said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"This is the worst violence that we have ever experienced," Agri SA Western Cape president Cornie Swart said.

"For sure it is forces from the outside. It is political."

Agri SA national president Johannes Moller said the trade association believed wage negotiations should take place between farmers and workers.

"Give farmworkers [an] opportunity to negotiate with farmers on farm level."

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley have been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding R150 a day. Most earn between R69 and R75 a day, with R80 being the highest and only offer from farmers so far.

According to reports on Wednesday, protests were taking place in 16 towns across the province and several workers had been arrested for public violence.

"We are not trying to defend the R70," Moller said.

Workers' wages were determined every March by the Employment Conditions Commission, he said.

However the industry was very labour intensive and wages accounted for 45 percent of farmers production costs per year. This amounted to R1.5bn.

"So just a small increase will push this a lot higher."

Moller said the protests could have far-reaching structural changes in the agricultural industry if it resulted in jobs being shed, instead of creating them. It could also have an effect on buyers.

"It will have a major impact on the country as a whole."

He said a possible unconventional employment effort could be to employ more people from the same family. This would increase a family's income.

However it would limit the amount of families that were employed by the agricultural industry.

"So whatever decision you make it will have a serious impact," he said.

Moller also denied reports about farmers in the Western Cape area being murdered.

"We have heard stories about farmers being killed. This is not true."

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-11-14 17:10

    Of course it's political! The ancyl has publicly stated that they will make the Western Cape ungovernable. There are reports that most of the workers want to go back to work but are being threatened if they do. Typical ancyl tactics.

      Jason - 2012-11-14 17:17

      Zille went to speak to some of them the other day and she tried talking to them in Xhoza, they said they only speak Sotho!!! Which means the striking workers for the most part, are the illegal Lesotho laborers. Farmers are now fined for hiring them and they want their jobs back. Also in a lot of the photos the guys are covering their faces...........WHY!

      denis.dendrinos - 2012-11-14 17:34

      The anyl are targeting all the area's they see as gateways to being "economic freedom fighter" targets. Land, mines, banks.

      michael.bushes.9 - 2012-11-14 17:38

      I went there already, most people are poor. I met a fellow who never visited cape town because he didnt have money. The farmers control the town, because, the town's economy revolves around the farms. If you are born there, and have no money, your future is pretty much set, you wont even have enough money to study at UNISA. Yes, most workers are seasonal, Yes, they need the work, Yes, the farmers are exploiting them, Yes, without those farms, de Doorns will melt away into dust. What does one do to assist both farmers and farm workers? I think people not from the western cape should bugger back to where they came from instead of flooding the labour market which will drive down minimum wages.

      luther.kingsley.5 - 2012-11-14 18:34

      18 years since 1994, and we still have not proven Malan and Vervoerd wrong... what an utter disappointment

      johan.wilsnach - 2012-11-14 18:58

      This unfortunately it is a black thing. You are never allowed to have something or be better than them. Envy is a bitch. They will stoop to any level to disrupt the Cape instead of seeing what is done better there and learn from that. The price is getting higher for the anc to pay!!!!!!!!

      stefans.mkhawane - 2012-11-15 08:46

      The statements that this is influenced by politians does not hold water. What about the strikes in the mining sector which took place mainly in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo, can we say that was influenced by politics. I think not, workers especially in the farms are being exploited and most of them they even work on Sundays and Public Holidays without any extra pay. I lived on a farm and grew up there so I know what these people are talking about. The issue with the pay conditions of farm workers is widespread and it is not only the Western Cape farmers who treat their farm workers bad. This issue needs all involved in the agri industry including government and political parties such as the DA, FF-Plus and the ANC to find an imicable solution to the conditions of workers and the plight of farmers.

  • fanie.gerber1972 - 2012-11-14 17:13

    This lot better realize - the farmers can and will start mechanizing

      jonivdw - 2012-11-14 18:33

      So I did a quick poll of the unemployed chaps sitting and begging for "peace" jobs at the robot! I asked them if offered the following would they accept: R70 per day (they were all looking for R50 for a days work), free accommodation, free electricity & water, paid leave and access to schools and clinics for their families... They all asked if they could be bused down to the WC immediately as they're desperate for jobs.... Slave labour me thinks not. The worst is these wages were set and agreed upon 6 months ago by Dept of Labour! COSATU even approved them. Why now all of a sudden is there a strike? Because they need to quickly distract us so we forget Nkandla and how our taxes are being raped and pillaged by this marauding useless government! There have been numerous witness accounts of "protestors" being bused in by the ANC and COSATU?? Very few of the protestors we're seeing in the press & on TV are actually farm labourers. These so called "protestors" have been intimidating farm workers and preventing them from returning to work.... How disgusting.....

  • asdhasgd - 2012-11-14 17:20

    Farm worker logic: Lets burn down our farm for better wages.

      richard.bernardo.982 - 2012-11-14 17:36

      More like revolutionary logic

      Adil Smit - 2012-11-14 17:45

      People that are bussed in from elsewhere are not farmworkers. Farmworkers have had their houses burnt down, been intimidated by these thugs.

      rontheogre - 2012-11-14 17:51

      It is like "lets bash in our brains to become more intelligent" or as children tend to do, hold my breath until I get what I want, I want, I want(sorry, it echoes here). Is this Zuma's "African Way"?

  • Gary.desousa7 - 2012-11-14 17:22

    Let the negotiations begin,lock up the law breakers,charge them and farmers must do what they must do.

  • abraham.karelse - 2012-11-14 17:24

    The trade unions' role urgently needs to be reviewed in the light of these wildcat strikes.\r\nSalaries are being negotiated by the bargaining council every year,but yet these type of protest actions are condoned by the very trade union/federations that negotiated the current deal.\r\n\r\nIt seem rather strange that these trade unions are blatantly ignoring labour laws which they had been partied to.

  • andre.kuhn.583 - 2012-11-14 17:27

    Devalue the Rand! Learn from Brazil!

      el.torro.509 - 2012-11-14 17:34

      In order to learn from Brazil we need to attract foreigners to set up manufacturing plants here, I wonder what could be scaring them off

  • hitting.thefan - 2012-11-14 17:27

    If you have @Tony Erhenreich say that the protest will spread and that the exploitation has to stop how can it end. A Union representative is actually under a veil encouraging this behaviour. And thatis where the problem starts. Do not get me wrong I do feel for the little wages that these farm workers are earning but if farmers can prove that farming will be unsustainable with higher wages what then. Are ty he government gonna subsidise these farmers, must the farmers employ smaller work forces thus creating more un-employment or must they close shop and decrease our once very successful farming sector more?

      warren.rodel - 2012-11-14 17:35

      and they loss of the damages that have happened and that are still to come, only the ANC benefit very slightly (by showing how they can create violence anywhere, anytime), the employees and owners suffer!

  • richard.bernardo.982 - 2012-11-14 17:30

    In the rest of the country where the ANC is in power its "Lets build a better life for all" in the Western Cape where the DA is in power its back to the old style dirty tricks of destabilization, int imidation and bussing of "rent-a-crowd" thugs to all the volatile hot spots. One would be a fool not to see that this smacks of typical revolutionary antics. While there might be legitimate grievances from the farm workers side it has now been completely over-shadowed by the political forces that have hi-jacked what could have been a legitimate and peaceful strike. This should serve as an eye opener to all people that assume that South Africa would be a better place under DA rule. What is happening in the Western Cape now will happen in all 9 provinces x 100 should the DA be in power.

  • bertus.smit.94 - 2012-11-14 17:33

    Screw you. See how you feel when we burn down your house and car

  • goodguy.buthelezi - 2012-11-14 17:37

    When is comrade Malema going to address those farm workers?

  • adolf.vermooten - 2012-11-14 17:37

    this violence comes from unions and ancyl. why dont they understand that if there is no farmers we are all going to starve. Other countries are begging South African Farmers to go and farm in their country. Zim is such a good example of what will happen if farmers are murdered and their land taken away. Why cant they see that???

      silvia.vaneck2 - 2012-11-14 18:20

      Because they are too blind to see the obvious!

      FeebleGastro - 2012-11-14 20:37

      It is the African lack of intelligence.

      trevor.lotter.5 - 2012-11-17 13:12

      Because they are too darned stupid to realize the concequences of their actions. Look at the rest of Africa, not one success story in the whole of black Africa. All they want to do is rape, plunder and burn.

  • morwen.fourie - 2012-11-14 17:39

    @opinionator\r\nFarm worker logic: Lets burn down our farm for better wages! Bloody right!

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-11-14 17:40

    It was made very clear that the ANCYL stated that they would be the western cape ungovernable, infact Julius Malema even went as far as to say he would make the whole country ungovernable. So what we are seeing here is definetly political. The ANC are so desperate to get their hands on the Western Cape, that they cant even manage the other provinces yet they want to ruin the only province that is beiing run properly. South Africa is a country ruled by violence and it is this violence that will bring people down on their knees and wish that they had never followed stupid peoples instructions. Remember, you get what you give. I have no sympathy for stupid people who wont see past their nose. They must suffer because we will just move on and they will be left worse off than now. Oh why are these people so blind that they cannot see.

      sammyserame.galeboe - 2012-11-14 17:59

      1st winfred.watson u must be from CT,2nd u sound very bitter bout ANC/Malema/Zuma,3rd why is it dat no one tries 2come with any solution instead of pointing fingers,4th mayb u neva got paid an amount of money dat makes u sick by just thinkin about it???so plz keep your stupid comments to yourself if u lend a helping hand,SA is made up by the ppl who leave in it en its evryone's responsibility to take some action.En plz tell me wat kinda of a person can make a living out of R70,REALLY!

  • Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-11-14 17:40

    TREASONOUS political instigation at it's very worst by the tripartheid from hell with it's little leagues. WHERE ARE THE ZUMA TAPES? Lets hope the ConCourt is tired of conning everyone now as well, and are not slapping themselves on the shoulder too much for allowing things to get so far away from Democratic dispensatory effects.

      warren.rodel - 2012-11-14 17:56


  • jonivdw - 2012-11-14 17:50

    So I did a quick poll of the unemployed chaps sitting and begging for "peace" jobs at the robot! I asked them if offered the following would they accept: R70 per day (they were all looking for R50 for a days work), free accommodation, free electricity & water, paid leave and access to schools and clinics for their families... They all asked if they could be bused down to the WC immediately as they're desperate for jobs.... Slave labour me thinks not. There have been numerous witness accounts of "protestors" being bused in by the ANC and COSATU?? Very few of the protestors we're seeing in the press & on TV are actually farm labourers. These so called "protestors" have been intimidating farm workers and preventing them from returning to work.... How disgusting.....

  • el.torro.509 - 2012-11-14 17:54

    Yes 70 a day is a joke but how much profit do many of these farms actually make. Doing some basic research it seems not to be much as they have to pay back the bank, pay exorbitent electricity prices, ever increasing petrol, fertilizer and pesticide costs. Before going off half cocked about how rich or poor people are shouldnt we investigate what kind of raise is sustainable or if there are other schemes like setting aside part of the farm to a workers trust which the profits cn b used for education, mefical etc. Ultimately national govt needs to help the farmers through tax breaks etc in return for sustainable employee remuneration and benefits

  • bernard.swanepoel - 2012-11-14 17:54

    The time has come to tell the Prez, the ANCYL and all the outside forces if they do not stop this blatant political violence, white black and others who want to make something of South Africa will intervene. Let the real SouthAfricans who care, show the government how to sort out this destroying of our country.

  • mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-11-14 17:55

    Then even paying low wages is polotically motivated then.

  • karla.vanzyl.108 - 2012-11-14 18:04

    Denying murders..? The second farmer was murdered today. My friends who are living in that area were told this morning by farmworkers that they are gonna burn down everything they own and murder them. This is NOT the way to get what you want! This is SICK.

  • liezl.haramis.7 - 2012-11-14 18:05

    @Itse: Come out of the dark ages please. This is the 21st century. Me dont like my look for another job!! Like mr Terry said, you get paid according to your IQ...

  • Jaco JP Venter - 2012-11-14 18:06

    Farmers arm yourself and shoot to kill if the first one fall all of them will run and hide go boere go u can shoot they are trespassing on private property and they will invade your homes shoot and shoot

  • ktheron2 - 2012-11-14 18:15

    For sure. How could any clear-thinking, sane person possibly think otherwise?

  • J.D. - 2012-11-14 18:18

    Never did I see a group of white, coloured or Indian people involve themselves in this kind of destructive action. Why is it that it is ALWAYS instigated by blacks. Can they no nothing else than destruction. The blacks who do not condone this please speak up.

      manqoba.zulu.54 - 2012-11-14 18:46

      The day is see 10 white workers with grade 12 and working as general workers I will condemn this violence, this country is so unfair in treating its people, unfortunately I can smell revolution, and if I were you I would change my attitude or else start stocking my canned food

      bobby.jaan.92 - 2012-11-16 05:16

      Yeah, manqoba.zulu - your maths are failing you. White people in this country only represents 6% - 7% of our total work force - so, even if you replace every single white job with a black you will only address a very small portion of the unemployment amongst blacks in this country.

  • mark.uys.5 - 2012-11-14 18:34

    Reading these comments from both black and white, South Africa will never know peace! Change your mind South Africa, and fast! No sollutions just insults, very very sad...and everyone seeks

      phathiswa.madyosi - 2012-11-14 18:52

      So true...

  • manqoba.zulu.54 - 2012-11-14 18:57

    People can say all they want, greed and unfair treatment of people results in revolution all over the world, in this country it is acceptable that some race with grade 12 can be general workers and their supervisor especially in farm be an uneducated person of different rate, the day I see all that have no qualification or grade 12 doing the same work, is the day I will feel better, at the moment I can smell revolution due to unfair treatment based on race:

      paul.chick.501 - 2012-11-14 20:01

      Bssed on "iq"

  • dennis.crossman.9 - 2012-11-14 18:59

    Zimbabwe here we come. WTF is wrong with the government. No back bone. Next thing we will need the UN to come rescue us cause our own people are to busy saving other countries

  • christi.roestorff - 2012-11-14 19:03

    Whatever happens we'll land up paying more! While I type this I gaze at my vegetable patch and somehow seeker value in it!!

  • RudiErnst - 2012-11-14 19:19

    Is this a protected strike? If not, begin the process to fire them - they are not indispensable and I understand that their free accommodation and other benefits are not being taken into account for the purpose of this protest. Then take on new labourers at a reasonable wage, affordable from the perspective of business sustainability. The bulk of the people might very well want to get back to work, but then it is up to them to ensure the majority rules.

      Goboza Mashaba - 2012-11-14 19:46

      You are talking just like a grumpy old moron who doesnt give a damn about the wellbeing of people. This people are dying for a mere R150 a week which is not even a living wage in this economy. @ut yourself in their shoes for 1 day and see if you can survive with those peanuts!

  • corne.koekemoer.1 - 2012-11-14 19:30

    Cant you invest in technology to do some of the work and get rid of some workers and pay the rest more. How else do you get around this problem? People want more money farmers cant pay them more, so what can possibly be the solution here?

  • nico.eksteen.7 - 2012-11-14 19:50

    Reduce the workforce by half and give the so-called good workers their R150 that they think they are worth. Take disciplinary against those that don't reach their new targets.

  • braamc - 2012-11-14 19:55

    It is the ANC, continue f up the economy and making the poor poorer, for your theft and corruption won't decrease. All a bunch barbaric savages, burn, loot, kill and destroy. It is not human yet

  • alf.pop - 2012-11-14 20:22

    How many of the "strikers" have never worked on a farm but are professional trouble makers, used by ANC structures and Unions whenever and wherever they feel fit. That's why they cover their faces - they don't want to be recognised and found to have been involved in other strikes and violent protests around the country.

  • Bernard Breytenbach - 2012-11-14 23:19

    Stop just the unnecessary violence please! South Africa is dying thanks to your unnecessary violence. If you want to change something like the wages then do a peaceful strike without causing to kill or harm people. I can just imagine what Nelson Mandela is thinking. And I bet you it had nothing to do with violence.

  • george.gervais.7 - 2012-11-14 23:37

    Hey look, no one is asking questions about Nkandla anymore, the propaganda machine has done its work well. Wake up white South Africa, stand together and prepare.

  • terry.usher.73 - 2012-11-15 07:44

    I see my chirp has been deleted/removed! Is it because I said farm workers with an IQ of higher than room temperature should get double pay??? I think any farmer like me would appreciate half intelligent, reliable, honest, loyal and hard working labour.

  • josie.puchertmackenzie - 2012-11-15 14:15

    @mangoba.zulu54 I can show you more than 10 white young males who have an excellent grade 12 pass plus even more education who work for less than R70 a day. Do 2 jobs i.e. work during the day and a night job. They want to work, but are prevented from getting jobs because they are white males. Whose fault is it that people cannot support their families of 4 or 6 children. If they stopped having so many children they would have more money to spend on the ones they have. If you don't like your working conditions then leave and find another job. Oh sorry I forgot, since the ANC took control less jobs available for everybody as there is no investor confidence in this god awful place you call a country. It is political. Cosatu agreed to these conditions before, and now again what african, ever wants to accept accountability, none especially the dam idiots you vote into power.

  • at.stander - 2012-11-15 17:53

    Ons hoor net die eensydige kant van die stakers en die aanhitsers. Laat die boere hulle saak stel en verduidelik wat die werkers alles ontvang bykomend hulle salaris en hoe na hulle omgesien word. Die stakers maak asof die boere die vark in die verhaal is. Die meeste dorpenaars en stadsjapies weet nie van die klinieke, skole, sportgeriewe, ens., wat op die plase is nie.

  • bobby.jaan.92 - 2012-11-16 05:06

    These farmers and their workers have been able to work these farms over a period of more than 300 years and in the process able to find ways and means to establish proper communication and wage settlements to the benefit of all the stakeholders. Why all-of-a-sudden this destructive way of these current protests? Why trying to kill the "goose that lays the golden eggs"? Surely there's someone/sombody behind this all. The only reason, I think, is because they want to become the goose itself.

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