Police close highway at De Doorns

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de doorns CAPE ARGUS Farm workers walk along the N1 after two farms on either side of the highway was set alight. File photo by Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Western Cape - The N1 highway remained closed at De Doorns, the epicentre of a farmworker strike, on Friday morning, Western Cape police said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said there were no reports of violence but groups of people had gathered in the area.

Traffic was being diverted through the town.

Thousands of striking workers marched for kilometres along the same stretch of highway on Thursday afternoon, braving extreme heat to protest for a daily wage of R150 and a coherent land programme.

The march was led by the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi), which represented a large number of non-unionised workers.

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that Agri SA honour commitments to “local-level” agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the suspension excluded De Doorns, because workers there were standing by their demands and were not open to negotiation.

The agriculture department estimated the number of permanent and seasonal workers in the province at around 200 000.

Of these, only five percent were said to be unionised. - Sapa


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