Unions, farmers to discuss wages

Unions representing farmworkers have accepted farm-level talks following wage disputes.

Unions representing farmworkers have accepted farm level talks following wage disputes.

CAPE TOWN - Unions will take their wage demands to individual farmers, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced on Wednesday.

The minister along with three union representatives gave feedback on urgent talks aimed at resolving the wage dispute in the farming sector.

The labour unrest in the Western Cape began in De Doorns in November and quickly spread to 16 other farming towns.

The farmworkers are demanding a daily wage of R150.

They currently earn a daily wage of between R69 and R80.

Two people were killed, farmland was set alight and buildings torched, when protests turned violent.

Joemat-Pettersson said, "Where disputes arise between farmworkers and farmers, the dispute resolution mechanisms will be followed as stipulated by the law."

Trade unionist, Nosey Pieterse, said he accepted the idea of farm-level talks.

"We have to take strategic decisions and that is why we have decided to accept the proposals."

The farm-by-farm talks will continue until January 9.

The industrial action revealed the harsh conditions of working and living on farms.

According to the Human Rights Watch, farmworkers in the province are denied adequate housing, proper safety equipment and basic labour rights.