De Doorns to host farm hearings

De Doorns workers will have their say on Wednesday during public hearings into the farm strike.

Police arresting striking farmworkers in De Doorns on 10 January 2013. Picture: Malungelo Booi/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Labour Department is going to the strike-hit town of De Doorns on Wednesday for the third in a series of public hearings on minimum wages for farmworkers.

De Doorns has been the epicentre of the violent mass action in the province.

Labourers are demanding a R150 daily wage but workers in Clanwilliam have agreed to accept a wage hike of between R105 and R110.

The Labour Department says the Clanwillian wage deal will be put to the test at the public hearings in De Doorns later.

The department's director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko says the CCMA will use the Clanwilliam model during negotiations elsewhere.

Department spokesperson Mokgadi Pela says, "I think it will be put to the test to see whether they [workers] can lower their demands."

The latest hearing comes at the request of unions.

Meetings will also be held in Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal later this week.

Meanwhile, several people have been arrested since the industrial action broke out earlier in January.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Agriculture officials say a fruit packing plant has been torched outside Wellington.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The facility had fruit that was to be sent abroad, while some were destined for the domestic market.

Department spokesperson Wouter Kriel says, "The government will work very closely with the police force to make sure that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to book. We'll also ensure the organisations they represent also bear their equal share of the responsibility."