'Farmworker strike could become like Marikana'

Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich says if farmworker strikes continue, SA may face another Marikana.

A car is set alight by striking farmworkers in De Doorns, Western Cape. Picture: @BOSBEER2006 (twitter)

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) at the weekend warned that South Africa could face another Marikana massacre if government doesn't intervene in the ongoing farmworkers strike.

The strike is expected to intensify on Monday as workers call on labourers in several agricultural sectors to join the protest.

Some farmers who are participating in negotiations have tabled an offer of R110.

Striking workers are demanding R150, an amount which is more than double their current daily wage of R69.

Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich said farmers need to realise the strike could damage their businesses for as long as it continues.

"We're calling on the president to ensure that people understand the stakes being raised in this issue. This thing is going to explode beyond all of our heads and pretty soon we're going to have a crisis like what we had in the mines. By then it will be beyond anyone's control."

He added, "The reality is no one is working and we are the agents who can help to achieve an agreement to take things forward. They better use the opportunity while they still have a negotiating partner. If things turn to anarchy completely, there will be no more negotiations."

Ehrenreich fears Cosatu may lose its political capital with farmworkers.

"Nobody can contest that there's a mass uprising in those communities. It is getting worse every day the strike continues. We have some political capital where we can intervene."

Meanwhile Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said she is willing to mediate in the farmworkers strike, if all parties return to the negotiating table.