'No guarantee of peaceful farm strikes'

WC farmworkers are determined to go ahead with their indefinite & unprotected strike.

Protesters in the main road of Swellendam demonstrate for better wages on Thursday, 15 November 2012. Picture:Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - A Western Cape farming union said it cannot guarantee that the farmworkers strike in the province will not be marred by violence.

Workers across the province are expected to down tools in an indefinite industrial action from Wednesday.

A meeting between Labour Ministry Director-General Nkosinathi Nhleko and Agri SA appeared to have yielded little substance.

Nhleko said at the very least employers are willing to continue with negotiations.

"Both sides are willing to talk."

Unions are standing firm by saying the industrial action will drag on until all their demands are met.

Activist, Nosey Pieterse, said he cannot guarantee the strike will not turn ugly.

"The strike is a given. I don't think anything can avert it."

Authorities have set up a joint operating centre to coordinate policing efforts.

In November, two people were killed and vineyards torched during a violent salary strike.

The workers were demanding a daily salary of R150.

Meanwhile, one of the country's biggest fruit export companies said it stands to lose all of its business to other countries if it's unable to deliver fresh produce.

Many farmers and import and export companies are hoping the planned farmworkers strike will not go ahead.

Fruit exporter Afrifresh's Dirk Lategan said planned protest action could not have come at a worse time.

"We're actually starting to pack our first grapes now. It will definitely affect the grapes that are coming after the batch that we're packing now."