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Farmworkers begin to lose hope

WC farmworkers feel despondent and say they may not recieve an increase by Christmas.

De Doorns farmworkers went on a rampage over salaries on 6 November 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape farmworkers on Tuesday said they were not optimistic about getting a wage increase anytime soon and were now losing hope.

They went on a day long strike demanding better wages, living and working conditions.

It was a calm gathering unlike the violent protests in small farm towns across the Western Cape just over a month ago.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced the suspension of the province-wide strike on Tuesday.

However, at the same time, wage talks have again deadlocked.

Workers are demanding a daily wage of R150.

One worker who asked not be named said she was not satisfied, but she has no option but to return to work.

"I'm not satisfied, but I actually don't have a choice. I'll have to make do with that R80 until further notice."

She however agreed with Cosatu's notion that strike action will resume in the harvest peak season next month, if an agreement is not reached between unions and farmers.

"The best time to strike is in January when the fruit is ripe."

Meanwhile, the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum said it believes the arrest of some of its activists following the strike was unnecessary.

A total of 17 people were arrested in Montague on Tuesday and now face charges of intimidation.

Farmworkers protests began in De Doorns and spread to neighbouring farms within days.

Over a two week period violent protests claimed two lives, destroyed several hectares of farmland and looted and damaged shops and private property.

Western Cape Premier has requested the army be deployed to assist the police in controlling the violent protests.