Farmers are forcing labour brokers to hire foreign nationals only, says union

Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU)'s Xolani Mgwalana said tensions between Lesotho and Zimbabwean migrant workers were beginning to settle.

Gift of the Givers has been busy delivering humanitarian aid in Robertson, saying anyone needing assistance was welcomed. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) on Wednesday said while tensions in the Robertson in the Western Cape remain high, there has been a return of normalcy with a few people returning to work.

The union's Xolani Mgwalana said: “There are people who were left behind, lots of them were left behind but afternoon people came back to work again as normal.’’

He added that despite CSAAWU operating in the area, the union is being sidelined in meetings between other labour brokers, farm workers, owners and individuals who are allegedly attacking migrant labourers from Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

“We tried to intervene on that, but we did not get response from the people involved, we are not involved in the meetings that are being held,’’ he said.

Mgwalana believes the exclusion allows for farmers to take advantage of desperate workers. “We know of this situation going on, this issue of exploiting workers.’’

He added that farmers are pushing brokers to hire cheap foreign labour strictly from Zimbabwe.

‘’They are saying they must not hire South African nationals, they must just hire Zimbabwean nationals because it agrees with cheap labour.’’

The Nkqubela township of the Robertson area has been plagued by violent attacks from rival groups who go door-to-door assaulting, robbing and destroying homes.

The reason for the conflict between Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africans workers is struggle for work in the farms as harvest time is approaching.

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