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Cosatu welcomes strike suspension

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed the suspension of the Western Cape farmworkers' strike.

“(We) will continue calling on striking workers to suspend the strike for two weeks while negotiations continue for a higher wage,” Cosatu's provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said on Friday.

Hundreds of protesting farmworkers gathering on the N1 near De Doorns. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus. (File picture). Credit: INLSA

“Should no agreement be reached, then farmworkers will go back on strike on December 4.”

The union said most workers had returned to work on Friday, but there were others who were still protesting.

“(We) will be communicating with them over the weekend to return as well,” said Ehrenreich.

Some of those who had not returned to work were those who had been dismissed and evicted by farm owners.

“Farmers (should) stop this intimidation and give the negotiations a chance to find a solution,” said Ehrenreich.

On Thursday, around 400 farmworkers marched to the Wolseley municipal offices to meet community leaders and the police, following unrest over wages.

Workers agreed to suspend the strike on condition that the sectoral determination for agriculture be looked at by the Employment Condition Commission next week.

Protests about wages and living conditions started in De Doorns last week and had spread to 15 other towns in the Western Cape by Wednesday.

Farmworkers were calling for wages of R150 a day. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day.

The main road in Wolseley, Voortrekker Street, was the scene of violent protests on Wednesday.

A stand-off between police and protesters resulted in the death of 28-year-old tractor driver Michael Daniels.

A farmer was also injured when he went to collect his bakkie close to the scene of the protests.

The 82-year-old was hospitalised after being hit on the arms and legs.

Earlier this week, municipal officials put the damage caused by protesting workers at over R500,000. - Sapa

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