Farmworkers set next protest date

Farmworkers have agreed to protest next week Tuesday

Protesting farm workers march through the De Doorns town centre on 6 November 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Farmworkers' Strike Coalition said on Thursday labourers will protests again on Tuesday next week.

This was one of the resolutions taken during a meeting of farming communities in the Boland region.

Demanding that their daily wages be doubled to R150, workers held violent protests for two weeks earlier this month, leaving two workers dead and thousands of hectares of land destroyed.

Last week, local government said it was impossible to review the current sectoral determination before March next year.

The coalition's Mario Wanza said: "The strike continues as the wage negotiations are unable to settle. People will be coming out on 4 December. However, we are calling for people to ensure there is no violence."

"We will be meeting with police, the purpose of this meeting is to ensure that whatever happens on the day, peace and friendship is ensured."

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament (MPs) on Wednesday called for transformation in the agriculture sector to be fast-tracked.

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Labour was briefed on Wednesday by ministry officials on a series of inspections or 'blitzes' carried out at 21 Western Cape farms this year.

Committee member Frans Maserumule said, "My concern is about the entire transformation of this sector in particular. We will do something about the long term transformation because this sector in the Western Cape is key in the economy."the labour ministry is set to look into ways to strengthen its inspectorate division.

The department's Teboho Thejane said there were numerous cases where farmers weren't paying workers on time.

"We were presented with information that contributions were paid the day before we went. It could imply that maybe - I cannot say for a fact - the farmer then moved fast knowing that we would be visiting."

Committee chairperson Nchabeleng Mamagase recounted his impressions of some farmers when he did an oversight visit.

"We visited houses of Nazi's when we were in the Western Cape. We witnessed the blatant hatred of black people."

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

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