Farmworkers' strike set to continue

2012-11-29 11:02

Cape Town - Western Cape farmworkers are set to resume their strike over wages and living conditions next week, their coalition said on Thursday.

"On December 4, people will not be going to work. We are encouraging people to shut down farming towns for the day," activist Mario Wanza said on behalf of the strike coalition.

"What will happen is communities will be moving towards a central point in the community where they will gather, and in some areas they will go through the town."

He said the plan was to meet farmers in the spirit of "peace and friendship" on the day, to discuss a way forward.

A letter was sent to Agri-SA on Wednesday asking them to meet the coalition to discuss the arrangements for that day.

Wanza said they were still waiting for a reply.

"On December 4, we want to talk about where we are at as people, meaning our country is torn apart. We are fighting with each other. Isn't there another way forward? There must be a common point of reference."

The coalition represents organisations including Women on Farms, Sikhula Sonke, the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and non-unionised workers in Zolani, Bonnievale, De Doorns, Worcester, Robertson and Nkubela.

Table grape harvesters started protesting in De Doorns at the start of the month for wages of R150 per day and improved living conditions. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day.

The protests soon spread to 15 other towns, leading to violence and two deaths.

Workers suspended their strike until December 4 on condition that the employment condition commission (ECC) look at the sectoral determination for agriculture.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced this week that it was impossible to meet the deadline.

She said the sectoral determination was put in place in March this year and by law, could only be reviewed again in 12 months.

Both sides have been in negotiation since the strike was suspended, with talks set to resume later on Thursday.

Wanza said government had to take responsibility for the deadline and farmers should be willing to co-operate.

"Surely you can give everyone a bonus. Nothing in law prevents a farmer from giving workers a weekly bonus. If you have farmworkers living on your land for 20 years, why not give (them) a title deed to that piece of land?"

Wanza condemned calls for violence during the strike, saying the planned protest would "steer away from that rhetoric".

He, however, could not guarantee peace.

"I don't think we as a coalition can claim to say everything will go well. When a protest happens, anything is possible. There is extreme anger, with workers saying: 'We have nothing left to lose, we are treated like slaves. Let's go all the way'."

It was agreed that the strike would go on indefinitely until demands were met.

Wanza conceded that there was no unity within the coalition, referring to seemingly conflicting statements sent out by Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

He said Ehrenreich seemed to be commenting on behalf of the coalition when he had not even attended the coalition's meetings with workers.

"You're absolutely right. I don't think there is a union of people working together. Different views are coming across.

"Our fear is that people want to project violence so it keeps conflict alive, and we hold a different view: that the Freedom Charter is what we have been struggling for."

Ehrenreich was not immediately available for comment.


  • Daniel - 2012-11-29 11:13

    Miserable christmas await these strikers as no work means no pay. Hope Mr Wanza has something in his kitty for them.

      jonathancfarrell - 2012-11-29 11:28

      They going to go from having jobs to no jobs when these farmers get fed up with this and invest money in machinery to replace their jobs!

      SarelJBotha - 2012-11-29 11:42

      I hope he has not. Some people just need to be hurt to listen to common sense.

      shirley.steenkamp - 2012-11-29 12:04

      These strikes will continue over various industries,till the country is crippled! Their is no logic to them,trying to ecxplain something is like talking to a brick wall. We all want,however most of us have to suck it up and make do with what we have!!!!!!

      jesibelle.krueger - 2012-11-29 13:01

      Tony Ehrenreich is the goon inciting the violence. Agri-SA should open a criminal case for inciting violence against him. The Agri-SA should pursue a civil case against him as a person for losses incurred. Let the idiot be so bankrupted that he has to beg for food from the same farmers.

      kgolane.thulare - 2012-11-29 14:01

      R 70 * 20 Days = R 1400 p/m * 12 = R 16 800 PER ANNUM... If you cant see what the problem is then your an idiot. This is simple 'FARM WORKERS' are tired of being exploited !!!!

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-11-29 15:07

      kgolane You are the idiot you did not take into account the free housing, food subsidy,Free booze, free schooling for the children etc. Who Forced them to be farm workers NOBODY. Tell me have you ever changed jobs? Why? Better pay and conditions? Nobody forced you to so why dont the farmworkers do the same

  • annelise.venter.77 - 2012-11-29 11:18

    Yes Tony Ehrenreich, for whom are talking anyway? Even the workers know your agenda....chaos in the Western Cape. Rather contribute constructively to solve this than the normal communist rhetoric you keep spewing.

      colin.dovey - 2012-11-29 12:02

      Yes - he, and two others are the snakes in the grass

  • theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-11-29 11:23

    Where is Margaret Thatcher when we need her? This is not wage negotiations, this is manipulations, violence and barbarism.

  • andre.zai - 2012-11-29 11:24

    these farmers must have Godly hearts. a month ago some of them lost everything to people who now want to talk about a way forward.

      john.loveland.9 - 2012-11-29 11:55

      "people who now want to talk about a way forward" People who have caused damage, loss and mayhem. People who went on the rampage and burn millions of rands worth of goods, people who feel they should get of scott for the damage they have caused with no recourse.... That is known as blackmail and terrorism NOT negotiation. I think the workers and their representatives need a "Godly heart".

  • eland.snitbul - 2012-11-29 11:29

    The farmers should block all the roads to keep these hooligans out of the towns and keep them from causing destructions. Would also probably be in the farmers best interest to hire professionals instead of relying on the police for protection. Job losses, financial losses and more misery will be the result of this... the workers will be worse off than they were before this and the farming industry in the Western Cape will be crippled for an extended period. Tony Ehrenreich, they should rather march to your doorstep because you’re the idiot behind all of this.

  • lydonmcg - 2012-11-29 11:30

    Lol...even the strikers see right through Tony's bull!

  • hezekiel.lefopane - 2012-11-29 11:32

    I know they ll be blaming ANC for this but truth must be told..this guys r living in shambles in cape town..Gugulethu, nyanda and khayelitsha areas just to mention but few...the reason why we have strikes only in western cape farms obviously is workers r being underpaid and ill treated there..maDAm must just clean her provinve first and stop criticising ANC unnecessarily..

      theodor.herzl.3 - 2012-11-29 11:49

      More than 90% of farmers in the WC comply with the minimum china some work for $1 a day you ungrateful peanut. You cannot pay a doctors salary for picking grapes from a tree!!!!!

      john.loveland.9 - 2012-11-29 12:00

      Or just maybe its because of the likes of Ehrenreich and his ANC cronies who have vowed to make the province ungovernable. And it certainly hasn't been anything nearly as bad as the strikes in the other provinces where the ANC are in power..... Makes you think.... or is that stretching it a bit

  • jannie.kotze.7 - 2012-11-29 11:38

    This is true communist barbarianism that sabotage the economy. Typical the communist cANCer and COSATU who can only destroy and break down everything and had never made any positive contribution towards anything!!!! Sis you bunch of idiots and scum of the earth!

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-11-29 11:41

    Which farmer in his right mind would give title deed to land that he bought to anyone for that matter. This minister should rather give people land from all the land owned by government but that would hit the regime t hard in the pocket.

  • mayapur.das.7 - 2012-11-29 11:42

    Don't criticise a farmer with food in your mouth.. The consequences of these strikes will hit where it hurts even more than the pocket

  • hezekiel.lefopane - 2012-11-29 11:42

    Aluta Continua...u must fight for better salaries..u doing a difficult job in the sun nogal..I know people ll try to politicise this but the truth is we know u underpaid, still living in areas like Gugulethu, nyanda, khayeltsha but maDAm is said to be delivering in the western cape!!! As long as we still hv shacks in cape town that's shows poor delivery

      mauritz.duplessis.1 - 2012-11-29 12:01

      Just check which province is the best run... maDAma's province you prick

      barbara.vermeulen.31 - 2012-11-29 15:05

      Helen Zille is not the only one who can decide about wages that were set by the ANC government

  • marnus.lamprecht - 2012-11-29 11:42

    One thing is for sure, as soon as you give these people a title deed to anything they will sell it as soon as they need drinking money. Also since when does living somewhere entitle you to getting that property? So when a child turn 18 his parents should leave the house because he has lived there for an extended period of time. this whole believe that one is entitled to things is just absurd, rather create a system where one work for what you have instead of stealing or taking!

  • klasie.kitshoff - 2012-11-29 11:49

    This saga is killing Ehrenreich's image. He wants to be the ball of the bell and now gets rejected by his own "soldiers". Time for him to emigrate!

  • mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-11-29 11:50

    This is a year characterised by the uprising of the poor. The country needs to take consideration and put measures in place to to remedy this. A ticking bomb has just blasted already now!

  • mayapur.das.7 - 2012-11-29 11:57

    R50 a day more per worker.50 staff..R2500 a day for 30 days is R75 000 a month you really think any farmer can afford that?get real!

      kgolane.thulare - 2012-11-29 14:17

      LOL you are a clown. So in your mind its justified for an employer to spend R 75 000 a month in labour costs, for a workforce of 50 PEOPLE!!!! If this is not exploitation, what is !!!

      mayapur.das.7 - 2012-11-29 15:05

      I think you missed the work EXTRA in that sentence. I mean over and above their current expenses

  • kobus.erasmus.5 - 2012-11-29 12:18 Tony's gonna pay a bit more for his wine from now on, huh?

  • paul.myers.984 - 2012-11-29 12:18

    Why don't the farmers sell the workers a stake in the profits of the farm? Then they won't cut off their noses to spite their faces!

      richard.hipkin - 2012-11-29 12:34

      Because the majority of the protesters are migrant or seasonal workers.

  • altusvanzyl - 2012-11-29 12:34

    Thousands already been laid off in Porteville yeah buddy

  • theo.doms.9 - 2012-11-29 12:51

    Alicia, I think you are wrong on Vavi. He is probably one of the brightest thinkers in Parliament, and I truely believe he will play a positive role in the future of SA.. But I suppose only time will tell..

  • rujean.vanrhyn - 2012-11-29 13:01

    The constant striking is crippling this countries economy, it is also a direct factor in making all SA citizens life difficult due to the inflating petrol and food prices. Something needs to be done about this constant striking, because the longer it continues the more the people of this beautiful country are going to suffer.

  • koos.vanrooyen.12 - 2012-11-29 13:33

    Die grootste probleem lê tans by die 'vredemakers', wat terwille van hul gemaklike lewens tot dusver en die mag wat geld oor hul lewens het. Hulle is stééds NIE bereid om te verdedig wat hul eie is nie, ook nie ter wille van hul mede volksgenote wat in die diepste ellendes van dag tot dag moet oorleef nie. Dus kan die stelling gemaak word dat die 'vredemakers' (boere) steeds die oorsaak is dat hierdie opstande en geweld daagliks toeneem. Sodra hierdie houding van 'dis nie mý oorlog nie' gestaak word, kan ons verwag om toenemend die element van chaos om te swaai in vryheid vir ons volksgenote. Indien die boere volhard om 'dowe oor' te gooi, sal die boere volk ten gronde gaan. Ek eis dat die boere sal besin sodat ons in eenheid met hulle hierdie taak wat wag op elke liewe blanke boere afrikaner, in eensgesindheid sal hokslaan ter wille van onsself, maar verál vir ons jeug wat géén plekkie in die son sal hê as daar langer op die 'sagte stoel van gemak' gesit gaan word nie. Ek EIS dat die boere opstaan en déél word van ons wat WIL, maar sonder hulle hulp nie KÁN nie. KOM BOERE - WÝS NÓÚ VIR DIE HELE WÊRELD DAT DIE BOER STEEDS NIE 'N VOLK IS OM SONDER HANDSKOENE AAN TE PAK NIE.

      sarel.claassens.3 - 2012-11-29 14:18

      Everybody have something to say, BUT no 1 has a plan. I was a partime farmer but stop it because I could not pay a labour more than what he bring in. If jou pay some R150 a day then he/she must bring it in. That is the bottom line.

  • nigel.norman.5 - 2012-12-03 21:20

    the minimum wage was set by the government. all they need to do is negotiate a higher wage in parliament. 100 to 120 is livable. but it seems the ANC are bent on trying to destroy the confidence in the DP by inciting the violence. They burnt my clients shop down of 16 yrs in Swellendam that supported 20 workers. how can this justify the farm workers cause. there are 20 coloured families without an income right over the xmas period. actually its sick and sad to see our beautiful country being destroyed by the thoughtless acts of violence. As the arrogance of the NP government was overthrown, so will that of the present government, just a matter of time...

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