Grabouw farmworkers to continue striking until demands met

The Commercial Stevedore Agricultural and Allied Workers Union has been in negotiations with management since last year.

Farmworkers at the Oak Valley farm. Picture: @oakvalleywines/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – A union representing a group of Grabouw farmworkers said that a strike would continue until their demands are met.

On Monday, dozens of striking farmworkers demonstrated outside the Oak Valley Estate in the Elgin Valley.

The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union has been in negotiations with management since last year.

The union's Karel Swart said: “The workers are prepared to strike if they don’t meet our demands. We want to highlight the demands, to highlight the conditions of farmworkers, to put the things in the media, to call on the consumers to take a stand against the conditions farmworkers work under.”

Oak Valley management said it complied with the National Minimum Wage Act when it came to permanent and seasonal workers, and that making seasonal workers permanent was not financially sustainable in the long run.

It also said it was phasing out the on-property accommodation as existing workers had been given allowances to find accommodation off the farm.

More than 400 workers went on strike on Monday, demanding a daily wage of R250.

They are currently getting R163 per day, which farmers say is in line with legislation.

Swartz said: “Workers need a daily wage of R250 because they’re struggling to take care of their children’s needs.”

(This story has been updated)