WC farmworkers strike finally over

It remains to be seen whether all farmworkers will return to work after the mass action.

Striking farmworkers hurl rocks at police during a protest for better wages in De Doorns in the Western Cape on 10 January 2013. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - Agri South Africa (Agri SA) said on Wednesday it is relieved the chaotic farmworkers strike in the Western Cape has been called off.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and various other unions decided to call off the industrial action on Tuesday after almost three weeks.

Farm labourers demanded their wages be increased to R150 per day from the R69 per day they claimed to be earning.

From the beginning of the strike last December, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) admitted many farmworkers were not unionised.

But the trade union federation insisted it was called in to help mobilise labourers and to assist in wage talks.

Agri SA's Hans van der Merwe said talks to up the basic minimum wage in the farming sector are going ahead.

"We have engaged with labour, we have agreed with the minister to review the sectoral determination. All parties should have been participating constructively and providing input into that process."

van der Merwe claimed the strike was poorly supported.

He said about 90 percent of the province's farming labour force did not down tools.

Economist Dawie Klopper said the industrial action has only worsened South Africa's economic situation.

"We've seen the downgrades from the rating agencies and they were proven to be right. They warned about the socio-economic issues and the violence."