16 January 2013

South Africa: Great Leap Forward to a Possible End to Agricultural Strike

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

Cosatu is very pleased with the agreement that was concluded in Clanwilliam with a significant number of farmers. This agreement covers a wage increase of R105 and a commitment to no discipline and victimisation linked to participation in the strike.

This agreement represents a model agreement that would be used in the other areas and towns, as we pursue a strategy of town by town agreements that seeks to replicate the Clanwilliam agreement. As soon as an agreement is concluded in a town, then that town would be exempted from strike action.

The Department of Labour supports this model agreement and encourages the partners to replicate it in other towns and sectors. The Department of Labour will also use the sectoral determination process to have the basis of those agreements apply to all farmers in the areas where an agreement has been reached between some of the parties.

Should Agri SA acknowledge that Clanwilliam agreement and the space provided for that in the law, as well as giving an undertaking to ensure that no disciplinary action is taken against workers for participating in the strike, then COSATU undertakes to encourage workers to suspend the strike. Agri SA should respond to this request by 13:00 Hours on Wednesday 16 January 2013, then the strike may be suspended.

Should there be an agreement, then the strike will be suspended at a general level, although some towns where workers have both the organisation and the view that they are able to continue the strike, they will continue there strike. This would apply especially to areas like De Doorns where the racist conduct of the farmers have exacerbated the historical hostilities that are both a legasy of apartheid and the reflection of farmers who want to maintain the generational advantage of apartheid.

This represents a significant move forward and puts the ball squarly in the court of Agri SA to accept the terms and secure a suspension to the strike, as a matter of urgency. The contributions and commitment of the Department of Labour, has put up a proposal that has made a settlement possible.

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