Farm strike forces clinics to close

Striking farmworkers have prevented nurses from reporting for duty in the Western Cape.

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

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Health officials say at least four clinics have been closed down as a result of the ongoing farm workers strike.

These include three in De Doorns and one in Wolsley.

This is not the first time protests disrupt health services in the Cape Winelands region.

Last November, the same facilities were shut down due to a strike for better pay.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto says, "Strikers are not allowing our staff through. We are keeping a close eye on the situation. Furthermore there are no other signs of clinics being closed in the area."

The industrial action broke out last Wednesday.

Workers are demanding a daily wage of R150 and improved living conditions. Most of the farmworkers are currently earning R69.

The ANC has called for the end of the strike but unions are not backing down.

The Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa) has called on other provinces to join the strike.

Meanwhile, 15 striking farmworkers have been arrested in Villiersdorp.

They were apprehended earlier for public violence.

Two others were caught while robbing a liquor store.

The police's November Filander says officers clashed with the protestors several times.

"Police used rubber bullets after some of the people threw stones at them. Luckily, no police officers were seriously injured."