Tony Ehrenreich

Jason Felix

COSATU called off a planned strike by farm workers in the Boland today, saying most farmers had reinstated protesters and agreed to workers’ demands.

Provincial Cosatu general secretary Tony Ehrenreich said at a press conference yesterday with the Black Agricultural Workers Union (Bawu) that farm workers were expected to be back in the fields today.

Workers have been on strike since the start of this month demanding a daily wage of R150, profit shares and better working conditions.

Ehrenreich said workers wanted to go on strike again over alleged victimisation of those returning to the farms.

“The strike suspension was not taken easily, but we were mindful of the fact that the plight of farm workers and the low wages they earn had to be highlighted. The workers felt the only way to defend those being victimised was to renew the protest action in all areas, but the co-operation from a large number of farmers halted the strike for now.”

He said farmers in Wolseley, De Doorns, Robertson, Rawsonville and some in Paarl were prepared to take back workers without any disciplinary action.

He added that workers would return to work today for the regular daily wage while negotiations continued.

“This strike aversion does not mean the strike is over. This war is long not over. We will only stop fighting if farm workers have better working conditions, have profit shares in farms and better relationships with their farmers.”

In Worcester and Wellington, Ehrenreich said, workers had been dismissed and prevented from entering farms.

Bawu president Nosey Pieterse said there was plenty of resistance from farmers in Worcester and Wellington.

He said unions, assisted by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, would visit the affected farms to try to start negotiations today.

“We have tried contacting farmers but they don’t want to listen to us and have chased farm workers away.

“We will pursue vigorously the fight for workers. If our efforts fail then we have mammoth strikes again.”

Police spokesman Andre Traut said police were ready for any trouble.