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De Doorns negotiations deadlock

Talks between workers & employers aimed at resolving the impasse in De Doorns has come to a standstill.

Smoke hangs over De Doorns on 6 November 2012 after protesting farm workers set fire to vineyards in the area. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Western Cape said farm workers from Ceres, Grabouw and even Mpumalanga were willing to down tools on Monday morning.

Over the past few days, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has been involved in talks between workers and employers to try to resolve the impasse.

Wage negotiations between De Doorns farmers and worker representatives deadlocked, following recent violent protests in the small Hex River Valley town.

Hundreds of angry farm workers embarked on indefinite strike action since last week.

Those who claimed they earn between R40 to R70 for a day's work are demanding at least R150.

Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich said: "A number of people have reported that they are also unhappy with the salaries, so farmers from Ceres, Grabouw and Roberston up to Mpumalanga have indicated they will be joining us on this strike in the agricultural sector."

The Western Cape Agriculture Department's Wouter Kriel said they are concerned about the strike spreading.

"We urged them to please keep their actions in the ambers of the law. At this stage negotiations have reached a stalemate, I think we should remember this is part of negotiating and nobody said it was going to be easy."

The police's Andre Traut said they are monitoring developments in De Doorns closely, following the recent unrest.

"We still have police patrolling the area to deal with any matter and we will maintain law and order. The N1 and freeway are still closed to traffic, only routes that go outside of De Doorn's are affected at this stage."

Demonstrators blocked the N1 highway and burnt several hectares of vineyards.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant condemned the recent violence.

"The workers do have a right to strike in terms of the law, but I want to appeal to them, their strike should not be violent so that people can really look at what they are looking for."

Many De Doorns farmers and their families have fled their homes amid unrest, while some parents have been afraid to send their children to school last week.

Last week six protesters were arrested following the protests which saw 30 hectares of vineyards torched.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille refuted reports that she was jeered and pelted with stones while addressing farm workers in the area on Thursday.

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