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Farmers, unions set to meet

Police continued patrols on the N1 at De Doorns ahead of talks between farmers and unions on Friday, following violent protests earlier in the week.

The national road, which remained closed to traffic, was quiet.

Striking farm workers carry a placard demanding a minimum wage of 150 Rand (US$ 17) as they march towards police at De Doorns on the N1 highway, linking Cape Town and Johannesburg, January 9, 2013. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at hundreds of striking farm workers who blocked a highway in the grape-growing Western Cape.

Rocks, glass and spent rubber bullet casings littered the road following running clashes between officers and protesters the previous two days.

The talks between individual farmers and unions were expected to take place near the town later on Friday.

The Cape Orchards Company (COC) representing 12 farms in De Doorns agreed to the talks with, among others, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the Bawsi Agricultural Workers Union of SA (Bawusa).

“These discussions are separate to the engagements we've been having with Agri-SA,” Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said in a media briefing on Thursday.

“What we are now talking here is a deal with the table grape (farmers) and some related groups...” he said.

COC chairman Gerhard de Kock said he invited 28 farmers to Friday's meeting.

“I believe that the groups should come forward, as they've indicated to me that they are prepared to talk about a settlement deal,” said de Kock.

On Thursday, police used a water cannon and fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse thousands of strikers who pelted them with stones.

The strike by seasonal workers to have their R69 daily wage increased to R150 - which began on August 27 last year, and was called off on December 4 - resumed on Wednesday. - Sapa

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