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Cosatu requests inquiry into farm strike

Cosatu wants a commission of inquiry to determine the cause of violence during farmworker strikes.

Protesters at De Doorns place panels from a dismantled fence on the N1 highway on 9 January 2013. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Thursday it wants a commission of inquiry to determine the exact cause of the violence during the farmworkers strike.

There were more clashes between striking farmworkers and the police in De Doorns as protests continued on Wednesday.

Workers are demanding a doubled daily wage of R150 and better working and living conditions.

Police used rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannons to disperse angry strikers.

Unruly strikers also turned on the media and set a journalist's vehicle alight.

During a press briefing in Worcester, Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich said the violence needed to be probed.

"We want a commission of inquiry to come up with what the reasons were behind the acts of violence. We condemn all forms of violence during the strike. The killing of one of our workers on a farm by one of the security companies is a major problem."

ANC councillor Pat Marran was shot in the face by a private security guard in the Hex River Valley while he was leading labourers in protests for higher wages.

The first round of farmworker strikes took place in November last year in which two people were killed and hectares of land completely destroyed.

Farmworkers claim to be earning as little as R69 per day.

Meanwhile, Western Cape African National Congress (ANC) Chairman Marius Fransman on Thursday called for a resumption of wage talks to end the strike.

He said the industrial action is everyone's problem.

"We are concerned that organised agriculture in the Western Cape has refused to direct their individual farmers to the negotiation table."