Allow workers back on farms - union

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farm strike jan 15 CAPE ARGUS FILE PHOTO: Strikers gather at dawn in Villiersdorp, facing off with police who refused to let them into the town centre. File photo: Thomas Holder


Western Cape - Western Cape farmers should allow their workers to return without facing disciplinary action after their strike was called off, a trade union said on Sunday.

“We reiterate our call on all farm owners to allow all their workers back and nullify disciplinary actions and to allow those staying on farms to continue dwelling on farms,” Food and Allied Workers' Union general secretary Katishi Masemola said in a statement.

“If anything, we still encourage all other farm owners and management to turn the new page by negotiating with trade unions and by recognising their right to organise farm workers.”

Masemola said Fawu leaders held meetings with workers in Ceres and De Doorns over the weekend. About 700 attended the meeting in Ceres, which was hosted by the African National Congress. He said 500 workers attended the meeting in De Doorns.

The union rejected calls for the strike to continue on Monday.

“We informed workers that as Fawu we distance the union from such irresponsible call and that we expect workers to report for duty on Monday and beyond.”

Issues raised at the meetings included victimisation of labourers returning to work, some farm owners refusing workers to return, dismissal and eviction notices.

“Fawu (will) defend its members, legally or through collective power, and calls for (a) selected or targeted local consumer boycott or international retailer boycott.”

Farmworkers went on strike last year, demanding that the minimum daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a cohesive land reform programme be implemented.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions announced on Tuesday that the strike had been called off, but said it would co-ordinate “the mother of all strikes against bad farmers” later in the year.

Agri Wes-Cape spokeswoman Porchia Adams said on Wednesday that workers had largely heeded the call to return to work.

On Saturday, ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola said farmworkers should not back down in their fight for a minimum daily wage of R150.

Speaking at an ANC by-election rally in Prince Alfred's Hamlet in the Boland, Lamola said workers should fight for a share of profits made on farms. Fawu and farm owners in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape were holding talks, he said. - Sapa

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