Farm workers encouraged to strike

Western Cape farmworkers have been encouraged to continue striking until their demands for a higher daily wage are met, it was reported on Monday.

The Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa) told workers on Sunday that a return to work may scupper their chances of farmers giving in to their R150 wage demand, the Cape Times reported.

A protester stokes a burning barricade during a strike by farm workers at De Doorns on the N1 highway, linking Cape Town and Johannesburg.

“We are calling on all farmworkers not to go back to work. Let us rather suffer for a few days than suffer forever,” Bawusa general secretary Nosey Pieterse said in Avian Park, near Worcester.

“We will win this battle soon, but we call on everyone to fight with us, because we all will benefit.

Pieterse claimed farmers were travelling to smaller rural towns in trucks to find workers.

He said workers would strike peacefully in Avian Park and Touws River later on Monday.

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December, but resumed almost two weeks ago in various towns in the province.

The Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) reportedly encouraged about 500 of its members in De Doorns on Sunday to return to work only when they were paid a higher wage.

Fawu general secretary Kathisa Masemola asked workers to protest peacefully on Monday.

The union announced last week it that it was planning to march to the De Doorns police station on Thursday to call for a strike without violence on both sides.

Spaza shop worker Letsekang Thokoene, 25, died last Monday when he was allegedly shot with rubber bullets in De Doorns.

The same day, a 10-year-old girl was apparently shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating over 20 complaints of brutality against farmworkers by police, farmers, and private security.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday that 26 police officers had been injured in farmworker protests in De Doorns. - Sapa