Cape Town farmworker march stopped

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De Doorns strike prep 84 inlsa Farmworkers took to the streets of De Doorns to press for better pay after farmers said they could not afford to increase daily wages to R150. Photo: Courtney Africa.

Johannesburg - The Cape Town city council and the police have denied farmwokers permission to march to Parliament at the weekend, the Farmworkers' Coalition said on Thursday.

“The city and the SA Police Service have refused us permission, claiming a shortage of police officers,” the organisation said in a statement.

“There is no such shortage when events such as the Soccer World Cups are happening... This is clearly a political decision to frustrate the legitimate struggles of farmworkers.”

The coalition said it had planned to march against farmers' “ongoing efforts” to undermine the new minimum wage for workers.

Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said the police did not deal with permits to march and referred the inquiry to the City of Cape Town's events and permits applications department.

Department head Charmaine van Reenen did not return messages.

The coalition said it would hold a press conference about the matter on Thursday afternoon.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced on February 4 that the minimum wage for farmworkers would increase to R105 a day, from R69, with effect from Friday, with an increase of inflation plus 1.5 percent in subsequent years.

Farmers had until Friday to apply for exemptions from the wage increase, department spokesman Page Boikanyo said on Tuesday.

Farmers who wanted exemptions had to submit a number of documents, including written proof of their workers' consent.

“In addition, the concerned establishment will have to provide reasons for not being able to comply with prescribed conditions, furnish a list of employees with their current wages... and a project plan, amongst others,” Boikanyo said.

The decision to increase the minimum wage was made after a series of violent protests by Western Cape farmworkers

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