Clanwilliam leads way in ending farm strike

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INLSA

Farmworkers in Clanwilliam have reached an agreement that might signal the end of the farmworkers' strike in the Western Cape.

Cape Town - Farmers and farmworkers in the Clanwilliam district have struck an agreement to end the strike there - and if farmer body Agri SA accepted the same agreement, strike action in all other areas could end, Cosatu and the Labour Department said on Tuesday.

In the settlement, workers agreed to accept a minimum wage of R105 a day. Farmworkers in other Western Cape areas such as De Doorns, Wolseley and Grabouw have demanded daily pay of R150 - up from the current R69.

The offer came as the strike claimed a third victim. A De Doorns man died in hospital on Tuesday from injuries sustained when he was struck by a rubber bullet during Monday’s protest.

Agri SA has been given until 1pm on Wedneday to present to its members a settlement proposal on the R105 a day amount, and assurances that no workers will be disciplined or victimised for having embarked on an unprotected strike.

Should Agri SA accept the model, all workers would be consulted and efforts made to persuade them to accept.

“This model will serve as a basis for a settlement in all… areas,” Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said. “The ball is in Agri SA’s court. If it accepts, workers have something to think about.”

Labour Director-General Nkosinathi Nhleko said the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration would use the Clanwilliam model during negotiations elsewhere. Asked about farmers who had argued they could not afford big increases, but could now manage to pay workers R105 a day, Nhleko said: “I think it is a demonstration of the power of negotiation.”

Food and Allied Workers Union deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi said the union was encouraged by individual farmers’ willingness to carve out a settlement.

Agri SA chief executive Johann Moller and his counterpart at Agri Wes-Cape, Carl Opperman, could not be reached for comment.

aziz.hartley@inl.co.za

Cape Times


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