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Farm strikes suspended

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By SAPA

Cape Town - The farmworkers' strike in the Western Cape was suspended for one week on Wednesday, Cosatu said.

The union federation's provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the strike would resume next Wednesday unless Agri SA agreed to certain conditions.

“The only real thing that Agri SA has to agree to, is that they will not victimise workers for standing up and protesting against the R69 a day starvation wage.”

Agri SA also needed to “honour their previous commitments to local-level agreements”.

If the agricultural trade association did not agree, the strike would resume, either generally or in affected towns.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented. The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week in various towns in the province.

At least 180 people had been arrested in connection with the protests since Wednesday last week.

Earlier, Agri SA president Johannes Möller said in a statement that no agricultural wage deal had yet been made in the country.

He said a single Clanwilliam farmer had made an agreement that was “welcomed by Cosatu and portrayed by them as a collective deal with Clanwilliam farmers”.

He said the Congress of SA Trade Unions viewed this isolated deal as one which could “serve as a trend-setter for wider application”.

The offer was apparently not supported or mandated as a collective agreement by other farm leaders and their organisations in the area.

Agri SA had repeatedly called for individual farmers to negotiate with their workers, which was apparently taking place.

Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration director Nerine Kahn said localised collective bargaining would resolve the strike.

Cosatu leaders and those of other unions agreed that if Agri Wes-Cape publicly announced its support for such bargaining, this would help secure an end to the dispute, she said. - Sapa

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