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  |  Letters

Open letter on strike in Agriculture Western Cape from COSATU W Cape

15 November 2012

The strike in the Agricultural sector is exploding, on the back of desperate circumstances of working people in those communities. The people’s anger is being demonstrated by the violence seen during the strike. The social distance between farm workers and farmers intent on maintaining the old apartheid generational advantages is increasing.

The solution lies in leadership and an urgent response to the desperate plight of people, but it has to be leadership that appreciates the crisis and the need for urgent action. Just on Monday the Agri-SA said there was no crisis, and that they were not interested in negotiating a solution to minor issues.

The political leaders of the Province said this was agitation and there where good relations on farms and farm-workers were happy. The National leadership had promulgated a minimum wage that was an insult in this era of rising food and other cost. So clearly we have all contributed to this crisis unfolding in front of our eyes, as workers go on strike without being part of the unions.

The television media [both SABC and ETV], who have been very active in covering the unions call for solidarity action, is now not interested in covering the unions’ call for a return to work, whilst the strike is suspended for 2 weeks. This clearly is an important means of communicating the message in relation to recent developments and progress.

What is the way forward?

  • The politicians have to stop grandstanding on the issues, and collaborate on a solution.
  • The Agri-SA must take its head out of the sand and stop undermining the workers desire to join a union.
  • The Agri-SA must add their voice to the National call for an urgent increase in the minimum wages.
  • The Government must speed up the convening of the forum where the negotiations on the new minimum will take place.
  • The Unions must get workers organised into unions urgently and represent them.

The workers must understand that the strike is not called off, but merely suspended for 2 weeks, to give the government an opportunity to facilitate the increase of the Minimum wage, should they not be happy with the increase the strike can continue on 4th December 2012.

This road map is not a complicated concept, but requires political will to implement, from all sides. To delay is to cause the tensions to become even more volatile, thus removing the prospects of an urgent solution. The Agricultural sector will never be the same, and we have to construct new relationships and better conditions and wages, on this new reality.

The time for joint action and solutions are now, realising that we are in this together, black and white, farmer and worker.

Tony Ehrenreich, COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary

For any questions please call COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Tony Ehrenreich at 082 7733194