UPDATE | Owner of North West factory will cooperate with probe after 6 workers shot during strike

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(Getty/Gallo Images)
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  • Workers at a North West factory are protesting over salary deductions.
  • A standoff between workers and security guards resulted in shots being fired. 
  • The factory owners have denied the allegations levelled against them. 

Langplaas Boerdery factory owners say they "greatly regret" scenes which took place outside its premises on Monday, resulting in one of the farm workers being shot in the face. 

Six workers were shot and wounded at the farm on Monday during a protest over a salary dispute. 

According to police spokesperson Amanda Funani, employees are protesting against the owners of the factory. 

On Monday, they picketed outside the premises and chaos ensued. 

News24 reported that one of the workers allegedly tried to forcibly grab a firearm from private security guards during the protest.

Funani said at the time that, during the tussle for the firearm, a shot allegedly went off, which led to a shootout.

Funani added that it was unclear whether the guards used live ammunition or rubber bullets.

Six workers were shot during the scuffle and were transported to a local hospital.

Police were monitoring the situation on Tuesday after workers returned to the premises.

The workers were joined by EFF members.

Responding to News24's query on behalf of the owner, who is their client, Annelie Gründlingh Attorneys said they met with members of the political party, including the provincial chairperson, who was introduced as Shakes Botswe.

The lawyers said that, during the meeting, it was brought to the owner's attention that the workers had labour-related grievances, which included discrimination, non-equal pay, reasons for "savings" deduction from salaries, deductions for accommodation being too high with poor living conditions, and UIF deductions not being paid to the labour department. 

It was also alleged the workers were being paid below the minimum wage. 

Minimum wage

The lawyers said these issues and allegations made during the meeting on Tuesday had not previously been brought to the attention of their client, and were, therefore, being "emphatically" denied.

"Our client pays his employees the minimum wage per hour for farm workers or in excess thereof, depending on years of service and designation/position.

"He deducts 20% from their salary in lieu of accommodation, electricity and food, as is allowed by Determination 13, and agreed with them," the lawyers added. 

The lawyers said there were limited rooms available to accommodate workers and all UIF deductions were being paid. 

The owners have committed to fully cooperate and provide all video footage available, which clearly indicates the "true facts" of what transpired to assist in the investigation.

The legal representatives also said: 

There is no truth in the allegation that our client is responsible, incited or instructed any person to cause any other person harm or injury and it is vehemently denied. You will, doubtless, appreciate that our client cannot further comment on unfinished proceedings and investigations.

Following Monday's turn of events, the EFF then joined the workers on Tuesday.

In a statement, the party condemned the shooting of the workers.

The party said: "They live in areas designated for livestock, with almost five workers sharing a living space.

"These farmworkers are frequently ill-treated and underpaid."

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