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Settle farm strikes now, says Vavi

Nov 28 2012 13:14 Sapa

Farm workers from Robertson block a national road this week during protests against low wages. Picture: Jaco Marais

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Johannesburg - A new wage settlement for striking Western Cape farm workers must be agreed on immediately and not be subject to a new sectoral minimum wage increase, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.

"There is an urgent need to reach an agreement on a new minimum wage to address workers' demand for R150 a day before December 4," Vavi told reporters in Johannesburg.

Workers have agreed to suspend their strike until December 4, on condition that the employment condition commission (ECC) look at the sectoral determination, including the minimum wage, for agriculture.

Vavi said that while the ECC was urgently considering an increase to the minimum wage for farm workers, an increase was still unlikely to be made official until early next year.

"This should not, however, prevent employers in the meantime from agreeing to a wage increase, since the sectoral determination sets minimum wages. There is nothing to stop employers paying more, as some already do," he said.

Vavi said farm employers were being "un-co-operative" and some were using private security companies.

"There is a danger of the situation getting out of everyone's control."

Sixteen Western Cape towns have been hit by violent protests this month over farming wages and working conditions. Two people have died and there has been extensive damage to property.

The protests started with table grape harvesters in De Doorns, who were calling for wages of R150 a day. Most earn between R69 and R75 a day.

zwelinzima vavi  |  farms


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