Public hearings for farmworkers

Dept of Labour is holding public hearings in farming towns for farmworkers to speak up.

Police keep an eye on farmworkers who protest in the Wolsey area on 9 January 2013. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Officials from the Department of Labour will spend this week holding public hearings in towns affected by the farmworkers strike.

A hearing for the review of the minimum wage for farmworkers was held in Grabouw on Monday night.

Meetings are also scheduled to take place in Paarl, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal.

Farmworkers have been on strike since Wednesday last week.

They are demanding their daily wage be increased to R150 from their current R69.

Their mass action has been marred by violence.

The department's Thembinkosi Mkalipi said, "We're giving the workers an opportunity to influence the process of the public hearings and explain to what it is we're looking at."

Meanwhile, Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder said the violent farmworkers strike is scaring off foreign investors.

It seems there is no end in sight for the industrial action.

The strike has been marred by violence which has seen almost 200 people arrested.

Mulder said the industrial action is harming the economy.

"Our competitors like Brazil and Australia are winning and the farmworkers will be the losers next season."