Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union

8 January 2013

South Africa: Farm Worker Strike Will Continue Until Our Demands Are Met

Cape Town — In November last year farm workers started a historic strike in the struggle for a living wage of R150 per day.

This has been a bountiful harvest of summer fruits which has been picked by the hands of farm workers, yet many workers cannot afford the food that they have helped to plant, pick and process, hence their demand for a living wage.

Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) states in their study entitled Farm Sectoral Determination: An Analysis of Agricultural Wages in South Africa (December 2012)/ that "even if the wages were raised to R150 per day, and even if two such wage-packets are coming in to one family, the money is still not sufficient to feed them properly".

The demand for R150 per day and a living wage is symbolic of a greater struggle to transform the rural countryside and for radical agrarian transformation including redistribution of land. This is especially relevant in 2013 as we begin to think about the /1913 Land Act/ which ushered in massive land dispossession which has continued up until today.

This confirms the lived experiences of workers in the rural areas and the determination to continue their struggle against slave wages and baasskapon the farms.

On Friday – 4 January, in consultation with the Department of Labour, Trade Unions and the farm worker coalition it was clear that organised agriculture is not willing to negotiate either with the unions and/or popular organisations. Even the decision to negotiate on a farm-by-farm basis has not worked as farmers remain intransigent.

We demand:

the charges against 275 people for public violence be withdrawn

* the reinstatement of workers that have been dismissed due to strike related actions

* that farmers withdraw disciplinary action against workers

* that police act with constraint and not treat the farm worker strike as a criminal act, but to treat workers in the same way that they treat farm owners.

There can be no settlement until these demands are met. The strike will resume on Wednesday, 9 January 2013.

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