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Zille meets with farming communities

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is meeting with farmers and workers in Ceres and Robertson.

Premier Helen Zille is holding meetings with Western Cape farmers and their workers.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is meeting with farmers and workers in several parts of the province on Wednesday.

The sessions come amid fears that farmworkers will down tools again next week, unless their demands for a wage increase are met.

Workers are demanding R150 for a day's work.

The premier is to meet with workers and farmers in the Ceres and Robertson areas, in a bid to quell ongoing tensions.

Labourers have threatened to go out on strike next Tuesday if their wage demands have not been resolved.

Both the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant seem to have little hope that the talks will be completed by then.

Zille has called for the army to be deployed to help police, should violence erupt again.

The premier's spokesperson Zak Mbhele said, "Because the police, during the last period of unrest, had indicated they were stretched very thin, they would need additional support."

De Doorns farmworkers started protesting for better salaries before the action spread to 16 other towns.

Shops were looted and vineyards were torched by the striking workers.

Meanwhile, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Labour says transformation in the sector must speed up.

Most farmworkers live in appalling conditions and earn between R65 and R80 a day.