Farming industry needs to change

The farming industry needs an overhaul, according to the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association.

Protesters in the main road of Swellendam demonstrate for better wages on 15 November 2012 during widespread unrest in the Western Cape. Picture:Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - The Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association on Saturday said protest action by farmworkers highlights the need to establish cultural and fair farming that is both socially and economically sustainable.

Several workers in the Boland, Cape Winelands, De Doorns and Ceres participated in demonstrations for higher wages this week.

Workers are demanding a R150 for a day's work, while employers have offered R80.

Currently, they are earning between R60 and R75.

The organisation's Mzukisi Mooi said, "We need an environment, where workers would be able to freely articulate, what they want to their employers. And be allowed to belong to organisations that will be able to represent their interest."

Earlier this week, at least 40 people were arrested in connection with overnight demonstrations in Swellendam.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille also warned the ongoing farm protests will lead to job loses as protesters have torched vineyards in some areas.

Zille believes the protests are politically motivated.

At the same time, the ANC in the Eastern Cape has called on consumers to boycott Cape wines as it believes the industry is exploiting workers.