Nosey Pieterse

Jason Felix

The Black Agricultural Workers Union of SA (Bawusa) will target smaller farming towns today, and have re-affirmed their commitment to R150 wage increase, promising industrial action with renewed vigour and no violence.

Workers have demanded a R150 wage increase since November.

The strike has been marred by violence and three people have died.

Bawusa general secretary Nosey Pieterse highlighted the towns Avian Park, near Worcester, and Touws River where strikes can be expected today.

Yesterday, Pieterse held a rally in Avian Park where, he said, more than half of the informal settlement residents were farm workers.

“We have seen farmers coming in with trucks and loading people to go work on farms. These smaller towns are supplying farmers with labour,” Pieterse said.

He claims that farmers in De Doorns have trucked in workers “almost every day” since the start of the strike on January 9.

“We are calling on all farm workers not to go back to work. Let us rather suffer for a few days than suffer forever.

“We will win this battle soon, but we call on everyone to fight with us, because we all will benefit,” he said.

Pieterse said negotiations with farmers had started, “but on an informal level”.

“We are having casual talks with farmers in preparation for more formal talks.

“We have handed over memorandums to various farmers and that has been received (well) by most farmers.”

He said a R105 offer by farmers would be accepted.

In De Doorns, about 500 farmworkers affiliated to the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) were addressed by the union’s general secretary Kathisa Masemola.

Masemola said his intention was to canvass Fawu members on whether to continue the strike if farmers do agree to increase wages to more than R100 a day.

Masemola told the crowd at the De Doorns Sports Stadium that if they decided to go back to work, they should only do so for a higher wage.

“I want to encourage farmers to follow the good example set by Gerhard de Cock of Hex River Valley.

“He was the only farmer to agree on a higher wage for you. We only go back to work for higher wages,” he told the crowd.

Masemola encouraged farmworkers to demonstrate peacefully tomorrow.

Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said they were still deployed in the affected areas to act on any reported incidents of violence.