Policeman hurt in farm protest

Cape Town - A police officer was injured during a farmworkers' strike in Villiersdorp on Monday, Western Cape police said.

He was struck by stones thrown at a police station, Warrant Officer November Filander said. He was taken to a local hospital.

Police fire rubber bullets while protesters throw stones at them. File photo: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Police arrested 16 people for public violence in De Doorns, nine in Wolseley, 12 in Villiersdorp, and two in Ladysmith.

Workers set tyres alight at the police station, but no damage was caused.

“We had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, and arrested 12 people for public violence,” said Filander.

In Wolseley, the situation was similar. Protesters threw stones at police and burned tyres.

The R43 road in Worcester was closed because burning tyres were strewn across the road.

The labour department had extended its public hearings for the review of farmworkers' minimum wages Ä to take place across the Western Cape from Monday evening.

Acting department spokesman Mokgadi Pela said the first hearing this week would take place in Grabouw on Monday at 6pm. A second hearing would be held in Paarl on Tuesday evening.

Hearings had been set down for De Doorns, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal for the remainder of the week, but venues had yet to be confirmed.

The labour department held a month-long session of public hearings across the country in November and December last year following an extended strike by seasonal farmworkers in the Western Cape.

Farmworkers wanted the daily minimum wage to be increased from R69 to R150.

The Employment Conditions Commission was tasked with reviewing the sectoral determination for agriculture, which stipulates minimum wages, number of leave days, working hours, and termination rules, among others.

The sectoral determination was put in place in March 2012 and could legally be reviewed again in 12 months.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was expected to make an announcement on the new wage determination in February. It would come into effect from March 1. - Sapa