14 January 2013

South Africa: Cosatu Free State Statement On Industrial Action Taken By Farmworkers in W Cape

Photo: Kate Stegeman/Daily Maverick
A tense stand-off between police and protestors in Robertson after farmwokers protest turned violent

We have noted the ‘mixed bag’ developments in terms of the wage dispute in the farming industry. We are perturbed by the spate of violence and brutality that seems to be engulfing the legitimate strike action by the workers who have mostly been subjected to lifelong dehumanising working and living conditions by circumstances. This situation has its roots in the controversial ‘dop-system’ which was utilized mainly in the wine farms as a payment in kind. We have noted the unhelpful comments and retrogressive interference rendered by the Agri-SA. The latter has failed to lead its members who are farmers to reach an amicable solution to the matter. This incident reminded us of how they walked out of the Farm workers Summit in 2010 where possibly this situation could have been avoided.

It is our view that the current situation which most farm workers continue to be subjected to, are not acceptable and that there is a need to press for a complete overhaul of the farm workers living and working conditions. As a matter of principle we support the struggle for workers in the farms for better working and living conditions.

We call on the Department of Labour to play a positive role to bring about an amicable solution between the farmers and the farm workers, our belief is that collective bargaining can resolve the matter for the long term.

We call on Agri-SA to assist the process in finding an amicable solution instead of engaging in a divide and rule tactic by saying something in the media and relating a completely different message to its members internally, like discouraging farmers to negotiate with Trade Unions.

Issued by COSATU Free State:

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