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Police monitor farmworkers strike

Three people were on Monday arrested De Doorns after throwing stones at police.

Striking farmworkers allegedly looted shops during the first day of their indefinite strike on 9 January 2013. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Authorities are keeping a close eye on a violent farmworkers strike which has wreaked havoc in some areas.

There is a relatively strong police presence in the Pine View area near Grabouw that has deterred strikers from taking to the streets.

Police vehicles can also be seen patrolling the N2, but it seems as if the rain is keeping protesters away.

Rocks, tree branches and burnt out tyres which once served as barricades now litter the side of a road leading into Pine View.

Farming in the region is also quiet with no signs of activity.

Meanwhile, in De Doorns it also seems far quieter compared to last week.

Apart from three arrests made earlier after protesters pelted police with rocks the area is now calm.

De Doorns has been at the centre of the violent farmworkers strike.

The strike, which has seen more than a hundred protesters arrested last week is expected to intensify as workers call on labourers in several agricultural sectors to join the protest.

Some farmers who last week decided to participate in negotiations, have tabled an offer of R110.

Striking workers are demanding R150, which is more than double their current daily wage of R69.

‘UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS ARE THE ONES STRIKING’

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Pieter Mulder described the way a farmworkers strike in the Western Cape is playing itself out as a lose-lose situation.

Mulder said the strike had become too politicised.

“I see more politics than I see a labour or agricultural problem.”

He said it was a fact that majority of strikers in the Western Cape had never worked on a farm before and that it was unemployed youths damaging property.

He added the labour problems would have a far-reaching impact on the country's farming industry.

“We will in the next couple of years see far-reaching changes. 

“The big problem in South Africa, as far as I’m concerned, is that we need labour intensive farms and industries to address the unemployment problem. Because of these strikes, we are moving in the opposite direction.”

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