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Farmworker unions want SA labour laws enforced

The unions have called on govt to enforce labour laws amid claims many farmers are flouting legislation.

FILE. In 2012 and 2013, thousands of farmworkers took to the streets over a period of three months to protest for better wages and living conditions. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Some farmworker unions have called on government to enforce the country's labour laws in the agricultural sector amid claims many farmers are flouting legislation.

The Western Cape Justice Department is hosting a three-day farmworker rights programme in Cape Town to discuss wages and workers' living conditions.

In 2012 and 2013, thousands of farmworkers took to the streets over a period of three months to protest for better wages and living conditions.

The Mayibuye Land Rights Forum's Mercia Andrews said since the protests, farmers have become more aggressive and workers' rights are being ignored.

She said workers who join unions face victimisation.

"You'll hear stories of farmworkers saying, 'when I join the union and I am ill and I need transport to go to the doctor, the farmer would say go and ask your union'."

Andrews said workers have lost faith in government's ability to improve their lives.

Provincial Justice Chief Hishaam Mohamed said government has launched initiatives to protect farmworkers and a two-year plan will be implemented.