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Labour Dept must help resolve strike - Agri Minister

By Sapa | Nov 14, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 18 ]

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has called on the Labour Department to intervene in the Western Cape farm workers’ strike.

“I have no capacity to advise or influence the employment conditions commission,” she told SAfm on Wednesday morning.

“That is a matter for the department of labour or the minister of labour. We have done what we could as the department of agriculture and we will continue supporting workers.” 

She said she had helped “restore relationships” between striking farm workers and farmers.

“I think we’ve [the department] acted as a facilitator to allow that these negotiations and talks stay on track... We cannot afford this sector to lose jobs... that is why we decided to participate in normalising the situation.” 

Business Day reported on Wednesday that Joemat-Pettersson told workers on Tuesday afternoon she would speak to President Jacob Zuma on their behalf.

“I will tell the president that we cannot ignore the call of the farm workers. From there we will go to the labour minister to discuss sectoral determinations,” she was quoted as saying.

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley, in the Western Cape, had been protesting for a week over their wages, demanding R150 a day. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day, with R80 being the highest and only offer from farmers.

Several protesters have been arrested for public violence.

“We call on all workers to stop the violence, to stop the vandalism,” the minister said on SAfm.

On Tuesday, Joemat-Pettersson called for an end to the violence in the De Doorns area.

She was commenting after being asked by their representatives and unions to escalate their demands to an inter-ministerial meeting to review the minimum wage for the entire agriculture sector.

“The farmworkers’ unions said they were willing to abandon the strikes for two weeks until a solution to the wage issue was found,” Joemat-Pettersson said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Farmworkers in the area went on strike last week. They are asking for R150 per day in wages.

“The farmworker unions demanded that workers should be paid a minimum of R80 per day in wages with immediate effect. The workers were also urged to go to work tomorrow,” she said.

Joemat-Pettersson said rising food prices and food insecurity made it impossible for people to live on R70 a day and that intervention was needed to improve the situation.

She said inequality, unemployment and poverty would never be eliminated if vulnerable workers were not paid decent wages and their living conditions were not improved.

“The challenge is on us as government to ensure that when we speak of a developmental country we address the triple challenges and how we can eradicate them.”

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COMMENTS [ 18 ]

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Does this woman have any clue about anything in her portfolio?
Yes, the wages are shockingly low (now what was Cosatu thinking when they negotiated THAT insult of a daily rate?) but did she find out if the farmers were financially able to cover a more than doubling of the daily rate?

Nov 14, 2012 8:12 | 0 replies

Just read on another site: "An armed gang allegedly stormed an ANC branch meeting in Ekurhuleni and allegedly threatened to shoot anti-Zuma supporters, The Star reported on Wednesday."

Nov 14, 2012 11:32 | 0 replies

antie

There is a group who does this. I think they are called Ethical Consumer or something similar. Overseas, you get products which are specifically labeled so that the consumer knows the product was not produced by abusive or unethical means. I think Woolies uses them here

Nov 14, 2012 11:24 | 0 replies

Yes Anti, no problem with that, but Tony E is too much involved with politics concerning the destabilization of the Western Cape. He surly took notes from his bedmaaitjies the ANCYL.

Nov 14, 2012 10:52 | 0 replies

Neon, one thing I did agree with that Tony E suggested is that products are labeled "worker friendly", to enable consumers to support producers who comply with laws and regulations, and cut out the ones who do not. I think it might work accross the board.

Nov 14, 2012 10:48 | 0 replies

Don't forget that token head Tony E. hy word lekker gebruik!

Nov 14, 2012 10:43 | 0 replies

Impela,
Depends on who you support or how much money you have as to what rule of law you get. That is the reality of what SA is doing at the moment. We have to get back to ONE rule for all or suffer the very great reality of becoming a warlord state where the law of the jungle is king

Nov 14, 2012 10:5 | 0 replies

Impela, my question is who is going to make Zuma's lawyers give up the tapes? The rot starts at the top, and until we can get a prez who actually puts the nation's interests before his own, everyone will follow his example and do as they please.

Nov 14, 2012 10:0 | 0 replies

@MommaC

We have many differences as Saffers but we all signed up for a Constitutional democracy - where the rule of law is the only common thing we share. That must be upheld for this democracy to survive.

Nov 14, 2012 9:50 | 0 replies

Tina: For a party token coloured your head is darem far up someone's rear.

Nov 14, 2012 9:47 | 0 replies

Die vroumens is so gevrek as wat kan kom. Dan sit sy met haar roos-lippies sooooeee en se net mooi f o k o l. 'n Nul op 'n kontrak, nes haar vriende.

Nov 14, 2012 9:42 | 0 replies