13 November 2012

South Africa: Cosatu Intimidation of De Doorns Workers Despicable

press release

I visited some of the De Doorns farms yesterday and was shocked to witness a full-blown intimidation campaign being waged by Cosatu against farm workers who are reluctant to strike.

Cosatu organisers were standing on street corners and telling workers that their houses would be burnt or their wives raped if they went to work. This followed the torching of a farm worker's house on Tuesday night. When I asked the police what they are doing to support workers to return to work, their answer was "they must phone us and we will assist them to get out of the area".

It is clear that these 'strikes' and intimidation are politically motivated. They are the latest installment in the ANC's 'Project Reclaim' which aims to make the Western Cape ungovernable. It is no co-incidence that Marius Fransman has emerged as a central figure in the De Doorns unrest.

The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), a Cosatu affiliate, yesterday announced a campaign of 'rolling mass action' in support of the strikes. This is despite Tony Ehrenreich's claim that the strikes were 'self-organised'.

The ANC and Cosatu's 'rolling mass action' in the Western Cape makes no sense because the national minimum wage is not set by the provincial government. It is set by the national Minister of Labour, the ANC's Mildred Oliphant - in consultation with Cosatu itself.

The reality is that this 'mass action' is a Cosatu-ANC orchestrated campaign to intimidate workers and destabilise rural communities in the Western Cape.

The DA fully supports an investigation into working conditions on farms across the country. Farm workers directly support close to one million of the five million people living in the Western Cape alone. We must do all we can to expand farm workers' opportunities and improve their quality of life.

It is despicable that Cosatu and the ANC continue to use farm workers as pawns in their political strategy to win power in the Western Cape. The DA will continue to support the rights and livelihoods of everybody in our rural communities so that all may benefit.

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