Gov. willing to mediate in farm strikes

The labour minister appealed to all parties involved to engage in negotiations in good faith.

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

CAPE TOWN - Labour minister Mildred Oliphant said on Sunday her department is willing to mediate in the farm workers strike if all parties return to the negotiating table.

Oliphant was responding to the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) announcement that farm workers will from Monday intensify their strike over the wage demand of R150 a day.

She appealed to all parties involved, to engage in negotiations in good faith.

Cosatu had also declared that labourers were rejecting the provincial African National Congress’ (ANC) call for the strike to be suspended.

Cosatu's Western Cape Secretary Tony Ehrenreich said some farmers have indeed come to the table offering R110 per day, even though workers demanded R150.

Ehrenreich said workers could call off the demonstrations should government come to the party on Monday. 

Cosatu had on Sunday called on the presidency to intervene in the ongoing strike as fears of the intensification of industrial action were voiced.

The ANC in the Western Cape had called on Cosatu to bring an end to the farm workers strike but Ehrenreich explained it was up to the workers to call off the strike, not the trade union federation.

Farm workers have also called upon on labourers in several agricultural sectors to join the protest and that products from the farmers who do not want to comply should be boycotted. Retailers should also discontinue selling their goods in stores.

“They’ve also called upon workers across the country to join them as well as workers in the processing plants of the food industry,” said Ehrenreich.

He warned again that the demonstrations could worsen.