24 January 2013

South Africa: Agriculture Set to Flare Up Again in Western Cape, On Vindictiveness of Farmers!

Photo: Sapa
Farmworkers march in Paarl, 4 December 2012

The strikes that saw many farms paralysed is set to explode into trouble again, because farmers are firing workers for daring to protest low wages.

The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions in the Western Cape has observed that farmers in De Doorn are taking punitive action against workers, for telling the world that they cannot sustain their families on R69 a day.

With the calling off of the strike, the entire country breathed a sigh of relief, but farmers have refused to take back workers who were party to the protest. This is clearly driven by the desire to spite those workers who protested.

This vindictiveness is driven by the Chair of the Hex River Valley Table grape association who has been the one refusing to even talk to workers and their unions, during the protest.

There is a growing rebelling against Loubsher the chair of the Bad Farmers in De Doorns , because he only has 200 000 cartons of grapes that are harvested by his own workers on the farm , whilst the other farms, who harvest millions of cartons, depend on workers from the area.

Loubser attitude is driving the sector into deeper crisis and will see farmers loose much more .

The workers are horrified at this vindictiveness of the farmers in the light of the consideration shown in ending the strike, the Cosatu and workers across the Country are going to support the De Doorns workers to get there jobs back.

We will as COSATU be making collections from workers in COSATU to sent to sustain the workers in De Doorns in this new phase of their battle for fairness.

The workers of De Doorns are also going to go to all of the surrounding towns to urge those workers to not go ad take their jobs o the De Doorns farms.

What is clear is that the farmers of De Doorns feel that this strike is undermining the slave master relations that they have built up over generations and they want to batter the workers who were bold enough to stand up for their rights, back into submission. This strike was an Industrial relations matter, that when its resolved workers must return to work.

If there are specific instances where discipline must be applied, then the law must be followed.

It is astonishing how the farmers will risk an entire Industry to reassert there baas skap, over farmworkers, as the productions is already significantly down .

This renewed protest seems set to flare up in De Doorns tomorrow, 25 January 2013, and there is a real danger that it will spread to other towns .

The historical hostility between farmers and farmworkers can boil over into a revolution at any time and the attitude of certain farmers is not helping this situation.

The farmers are putting the hundreds of workers whose jobs they don’t want to give back, in a state of hopelessness. Farm owners should know that when a man has nothing to lose, and sheer desperation, greater strive will follow.

COSATU calls on the Minister of Labour under whose advice the strike was suspended to urgently intervene in this matter. The CCMA should urgently be sent to facilitate the end to this crisis, which could see a resumption of hostilities.

Should this matter not be resolved over the weekend, there is a bleak forecast for Monday, is all the workers would say.

COSATU will no longer just be facilitating the negotiations between farmers and workers now, we are going to enter the arena of struggle against bad farmers.

COSATU will be filing a section 77 Notice against these farmers and will call boycotts of grapes in the supermarkets, and also call on workers not to handle the grapes in any areas.

If this matter is not resolved by this weekend, then COSATU is going to use every means at its disposal to ensure justice for the farmworkers.

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