KwaZulu-Natal - The violent strike by farmworkers in the Western Cape had not spread to other provinces because their working conditions were specific to that area, unions said on Monday.
Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Zet Luzipho, said farmworkers in the Western Cape were much more organised than those in other provinces because a large number of them were concentrated in certain areas and huge groups were usually employed on one farm, whereas in KZN the farmworkers were scattered and less than 10 were usually found on one farm.
“There is no place in KZN where there are predominantly farmworkers – unlike De Doorns, where most live in one place and experience the same problems,” he said.
Luzipho said that most farm labourers were also in isolated areas and news of what was happening in other regions did not always filter down.
KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union chief executive Sandy la Marque said that while they were monitoring the situation in the province, the Western Cape farmworkers were mainly seasonal workers who, apart from the wage demands, also experienced issues with services where they lived.
She said that those workers in the Western Cape who were full-time employees and who lived on the farms where they were employed, appeared to be much happier with their working conditions.
Housing on those farms was, in many cases, much better than homes built by the government because many of the farms were subjected to stringent international standards.
La Marque said that a new policy to be implemented on March 1 would see farmworkers receiving wage increases.
However, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union was concerned that this would raise the entire wage bill and could prove to be unsustainable, as it would an impact on the price of food.