Labour Dept: Farm strikes to end by March

Labour Dept said it will only be able to review farmworker wages before March 2013.

Protesters in the main road of Swellendam demonstrate for better wages on Thursday, 15 November 2012 during widespread unrest among farm workers that started in De Doorns in the Western Cape and since spread to other towns in the area. Picture:Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA.

CAPE TOWN - The Labour Department said on Tuesday it can't realistically review farmworkers' minimum wages until March next year.

The department is holding a series of public hearings nationally on the matter this month.

The Labour Minister plans to review the R70 daily wage paid to farm labourers after they went on a two-week long strike demanding a daily wage increase of R150.

The ministry's Titus Mtsweni said, "The minister pointed out that if there is going to be an amendment, it will come into effect from 1 March 2013."

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson earlier defended the deadly strike saying farmworkers have a right to voice their grievances.

She said those who took part in the strike would not be arrested.

At least two people lost their lives in the first round of strikes in the province.