8 November 2012

South Africa: Farmers Reject Cape Farmers' Demand: Report

Photo: West Cape News
A fragile peace has descended on De Doorns, in the Western Cape’s Hex River Valley, where the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is arbitrating between strikers and their employers after protests and wild rampages that saw vineyards burned and shops looted.

Cape Town — Farmers in De Doorns, in the Western Cape, have rejected a wage demand of R150 a day by grape harvesters, it was reported on Thursday.

The Cape Times reported that talks to resolve the wage dispute were set to resume on Friday.

"There is deepening tension in the area and workers are calling for the strike to be intensified," Tony Ehrenreich told the newspaper.

"This can be a real threat to grape harvesting. This thing is turning into a war because employers are bargaining in bad faith."

Workers had been gathering on the N1 highway since Monday and various protests had resulted in the setting alight of vineyards and arrests.

Agriculture MEC Gerrit Van Rensburg, community safety MEC Dan Plato and sport and culture MEC Ivan Meyer had been sent to the town to quell the unrest.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration was facilitating the talks at the Worcester civic centre.

According to the agriculture department, De Doorns produces table grapes, predominantly for the export market. This industry supports 8000 full time workers and 8000 seasonal jobs in the Hex River Valley.

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