Some farmers agree to talks

Worcester – Some farmers agreed to wage negotiations with unions, following violent strikes in parts of the Western Cape.

“These discussions are separate to the engagements we’ve been having with Agri-SA,” Congress of SA Trade Unions Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich told reporters in Worcester yesterday.

“What we are now talking here is a deal with the table grape (farmers) and some related groups.”

Cape Orchards group chairman Gerhard de Kock said he had invited 28 farmers to today’s meeting.

“I believe that the groups should come forward, as they’ve indicated to me that they are prepared to talk about a settlement deal.”

Local union leaders were also at the briefing.

De Kock represented 12 farms in the Hex River Valley in De Doorns, the centre of violent clashes between police and striking seasonal farmworkers.

Unions, De Kock, and several other farmers, were expected to attend the meeting.

Yesterday police used a water cannon, fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse thousands of strikers who pelted them with stones. The strike by seasonal workers to have their R69 daily wage increased to R150 resumed on Wednesday.

The Bawsi Agricultural Workers’ Union of SA’s general secretary Nosey Pieterse said close to 6 000 workers were on strike in De Doorns. Protests were also taking place in Grabouw and Wolseley.

The N1 highway at De Doorns was still closed to traffic yesterday.

Agence France Presse reported that 18 people were arrested yesterday, bringing the total to 62 this week.

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