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Govt calls for peaceful farm strikes

Jan 07 2013 13:04 Sapa
Striking farm workers demand that their daily wage

Striking farm workers demand that their daily wage of R70 be increased to R150. (AFP)

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 Johannesburg - Western Cape farmworkers need to be peaceful and remain calm when strikes resume this week, government spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Monday.

"Whilst employees have the right to engage their employers on matters relating to wage and working conditions, they are encouraged to refrain from violence and intimidation of other workers and the public in general," she said in a statement.

"Government will not tolerate violent labour disputes and calls on all parties to always strive to reach a common ground."

William said government had "noted" a planned illegal protest action by farmworkers, following a meeting at De Doorns by more than 1500 workers on Sunday.

"Government urges citizens to exercise their right to protest peacefully, legally and within the ambit of the law."

Congress of SA Trade Unions provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said on Friday that farmworkers would take to the streets this week following failed pay negotiations with Agri SA and government.

"We're at the point where the mandate from workers is to resume the strike on 9 January 2013," said Ehrenreich.

He said Agri SA and individual farmers had not offered much in terms of negotiations, and workers had no choice but to continue their industrial action.

The strike was suspended last year following an undertaking that negotiations would continue between workers' representatives and individual farmers. This had apparently proved unsuccessful.

Workers wanted R150 in pay per day and a coherent land reform programme.

At least two people were killed during protests in farming areas between August 27 and December 4 last year.

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