13 November 2012

South Africa: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson On Farm Workers' Historic Protest

press release

Farm worker groups and unions have asked the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to escalate their demands to an Inter- ministerial meeting to review the sectoral determination for the the current minimum wage for farm workers for the entire agriculture sector. The farm workers unions said they were willing to abandon the strikes for two weeks until a solution to the wage issue was found. Farm workers are asking for R150 per day in wages.

The farm worker unions demanded that workers should be paid a minimum of R80 per day in wages with immediate effect. The workers were also urged to go to work tomorrow. The Minister said rising food prices and food insecurity made it impossible for people to live on R70 a day and that intervention was needed in order to improve this situation.

She also added that the farm workers in De Doorns had succeeded in highlighting the plight of farm workers across their country. "Your efforts have changed the history of agriculture in South Africa. She called for an end to the violence and the destruction of property and said no harm should be caused to any individual. "This is the first time in the history of the country that farm workers have come out in numbers to address their own issues. I am honoured to be a messenger of the farm workers and to be the one who has to deliver this message to my colleagues and to the President."

The Minister said the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty would never be eliminated if vulnerable workers were not paid decent wages and their living conditions are not improved. "The challenge is on us as government to ensure that when we speak of a developmental country we address the triple challenges and how we can eradicate them."

"Your strike has been successful because you have put the plight of farm workers in the national and international sphere. Our country has a very clear idea of the challenges that farm workers are going through," said the Minister.

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