22 November 2012

South Africa: Cabinet Welcomes Farmworkers' Temporary Return to Work

Pretoria — Cabinet has welcomed the temporary return to work by striking farmworkers in the Western Cape while the parties are still finding a solution to the dispute.

The Western Cape farmworkers' strike began on a farm near De Doorns in August, when a group of workers walked off the job, demanding better wages. It then spread to other areas.

The strikes in areas like De Doorns took a violent turn, with workers demanding a wage of R150 a day from a minimum wage of R70.

The farmworkers said they had suspended the strike until December 4 to allow government "to implement their demands".

"Cabinet calls on all the parties to support these discussions which are currently facilitated by the Department of Labour," said acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams on Thursday.

In an effort to quell the violent strikes in the farming sector, the Department of Labour is to kick-off a series of public hearings in the Western Cape.

The hearings will have an impact on the present sectoral determination for thousands of farmworkers.

Last week Friday acting Minister of Labour, Angie Motshekga, published a notice declaring the start of an "investigation into minimum wages and conditions of employment in the farming sector, with a view to establish a sectoral determination".

The acting minister has invited interested persons to make written representations within 15 days.

Titus Mtsweni, acting director of labour standards, said once the hearings have been concluded, the Employment Conditions Commission (ECC), which advises the Labour Minister on wages and other conditions of employment, will compile a document and make recommendations.

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