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Bid to avert strike on W Cape farms

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By Cobus Coetzee

Cape Town - Labour Department director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko was due to hold a last-ditch meeting with Western Cape farm owners in Cape Town on tuesday in the hope of averting an imminent strike.

Yesterday, he met union bosses to discuss the labour disputes on farms.

Farmworkers threaten to down tools tomorrow, blockade the N1 highway at De Doorns and bring the farming sector to its knees.

Cosatu provincial leader Tony Ehrenreich said workers had started to write to European supermarkets and institutions, calling on them to boycott South African fruit because of the working conditions on farms.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said calls for an international boycott were irresponsible. “A boycott will simply create opportunities for our competitors in South America, Australia and New Zealand to move in and grab our share of the market,” said the chamber’s labour analyst, Michael Bagraim.

Labour department spokesman Musa Zondi yesterday said Nhleko was in Cape Town to have two separate meetings with workers and farm owners.

Nhleko met unions and Agri SA in Cape Town on Friday, but no deal was struck then.

Ehrenreich has accused Agri SA and its president, Johannes Möller, of being the main stumbling block to reaching a deal and said he was unwilling to change.

Nhleko, too, appealed to Agri SA to encourage its members to approach talks with various representatives in a positive spirit.

The Star

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