Judge advises Oak Valley farm workers, owners to debate male-only hostel issue
Cape Town – The Equality Court in Cape Town yesterday heard a case involving 40 soft-fruit farmworkers challenging their housing and living conditions on Oak Valley farm estate in Grabouw.
The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agriculture and Allied Workers Union is acting on behalf of the workers.
According to the union, all the workers are housed in male-only hostels, where they live in single rooms with up to four people in a room.
All from the Eastern Cape, they are allegedly not allowed to bring their families to live with them.
Talks between the union and the farm owners had deadlocked.
The union’s secretary-general, Trevor Christians, said the legal teams were called into the judge’s chambers yesterday.
“Today’s proceedings dealt with the jurisdictional issues and the
judge gave us guidance as to which
of the matters would need to be
taken to the Labour Court, Equality Court and the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Christians said the legal parties would be making written submissions to the judge by September 10 and the matter reconvened on September 16.
The judge has encouraged the parties to meet, discuss and clarify issues before making submissions.
Oak Valley lawyer Tania Golden said the judge wanted to deal with jurisdictional issues before the merits of the case.