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Farmworkers’ strike to continue

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Farmworkers are expected to continue their strike in Ceres, Wolseley and De Doorns on Wednesday morning, the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said on Tuesday.

“Fawu calls on the Western Cape farmworkers to engage in peaceful strike actions and desist from engaging in violence, yet to remain militant in the course of protest, picketing and other actions,” said Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola.

Western Cape farmworkers went on strike last year, demanding that their daily wages be increased from R69 to R150. They also wanted a coherent land reform programme.

Two people were killed and property worth millions was destroyed between August 27 and December 4. The strike was then suspended.

“We remain resolute that there is a need for a significant adjustment in the wages of farmworkers and the need to introduce a compulsory employee and employer contribution-based provident fund,” said Masemola.

Western Cape police said officers would be deployed to all affected areas.

“People have the right to peaceful protest actions, to voice their concerns and grievances, as long as they do it within the boundaries of the law and respecting the rights of others,” said Lt-Col Andre Traut.

Agri-SA CEO Hans van der Merwe told the German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) that most farmers could not afford to increase employees' wages.

“Only bigger farms can afford mechanisation and higher wages,” he was quoted as saying.

Farmers would be forced to close their operations if salaries were raised to above-inflation rates.

“These people are only employed for three to four months annually, and the rest of the year they are unemployed. This makes for a disastrous socio-economic situation,” he told dpa. - Sapa

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