Johannesburg - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant must intervene in a farm labour dispute in De Doorns, in the Western Cape, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said on Friday.
Fedusa would ask Oliphant to look into the legislation on wages and conditions of employment for farm workers, its general secretary for operations Gretchen Humphries said in a statement.
Farm workers in the area began protesting on Monday, demanding wages of R150 a day, improved living conditions, electricity, and an end to illegal evictions, illegal immigrant workers, and labour brokers.
Police said the situation in De Doorns was “very quiet” on Friday.
Earlier in the week, protests resulted in vineyards being burnt, a number of arrests, and the closure of the N1 between Touws River and De Doorns.
“Fedusa is seriously concerned about the loss of investment, due to the area being an export processing zone, where table grapes are produced predominantly for the export market,” Humphries said.
Fedusa believed there were political interests behind the workers' protests.
On Thursday, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was heckled by supporters of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema while visiting the area.
Earlier on Friday, Agri-Wes Cape said employers' representatives had been threatened by union representatives during wage dispute talks for the De Doorns grape harvesters.
“They were busy with discussions and left for a break. Something must have happened during the break, because when union representatives came back, they made threats,” said spokeswoman Porchia Adams.
She said the representatives' lives and safety were threatened.
The threats had been reported to police and it was expected that a case would be opened.
“We take this in a very serious light,” Adams said.
Despite the threats, representatives had decided to return to the talks in the interests of finding a solution, she said. - Sapa