Farmworkers’ strike continues

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farm strike grabouw CAPE ARGUS Hundreds of agrivated striking farmworkers marched past Hexkoel where farmers keep most of their produce cool. Unions say farmworkers in the Western Cape have working conditions that are unique to that area. Photo: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Western Cape - No violent incidents were reported on Tuesday in any of the areas affected by the farmworkers' strike in the Western Cape, police said.

“In all areas it is quiet. There are small groups of people gathered around but no incidents of violence have taken place this morning,” said Warrant Officer November Filander.

“Our deployment remains the same. We are not going to leave the affected areas.”

On Monday, a police officer was injured in Villiersdorp. He was struck by stones thrown at a police station.

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 De Doorns police station, but no damage was caused. 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 it.

Filander said at least 167 people had been arrested since Wednesday. On Monday alone, 42 people were arrested, mainly for public violence.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and a coherent land reform programme.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday.

The labour department was holding further public hearings on the review of farmworkers' minimum wages across the Western Cape from Monday evening.

Public hearings would continue on Tuesday evening in Paarl.

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.

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


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