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Cops fire rubber bullets at protesters

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Western Cape - Police fired rubber bullets to repel hundreds of rock-throwing farmworkers during a strike for higher wages on Thursday, during a second day of violence in the normally calm and picturesque wine lands.

Police and farmworkers fought running battles along the N1 highway, halting traffic and shutting off a number of towns and villages.

Protesters near De Doorns set barricades on fire and threw rocks, stones and debris at police vehicles, prompting officers in riot gear to respond with a volley of rubber bullets and tear gas.

Protesters were dispersed but rapidly re-gathered, in a game of cat and mouse that has rocked the wine producing region.

Farm workers in the Western Cape on Wednesday launched a fresh round of industrial action to press for the doubling of their wages.

Thousands of labourers have downed tools after wage negotiations collapsed following last month's work stoppage that left two people dead.

Workers who pick and pack fruit on farms in the picturesque region are demanding a wage hike from R69 to R150 a day. - Sapa-AFP

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