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South Africa: Strike ends as citrus growers accede to workers' demand

The strike in the Sundays River Valley has been resolved. The Sundays River Valley Citrus Producer Forum has offered a minimum wage of R20 an hour, as demanded by striking farm workers, effective from today and valid for two years. 

According to a statement just released by the Sundays River Valley Citrus Producers Forum, the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) is not recognised by the Forum as a negotiating partner on behalf of the employees, given the existence of trade unions and workplace forums and therefore the Provincial MEC of Agriculture, Xolile Nqatha, acted as mediator between the parties to achieve a resolution and his department will encourage and support compliance of the agreed resolution.

“It is regretful to have seen such violence and damage within the Valley, but we want to press on positively and look forward to welcoming all our workers back to the farms tomorrow [Friday, June 8th, 2018]," says Hannes de Waal, chairperson of the Sundays River Valley Citrus Producers Forum.

Novas and navels waiting to be packed at a Sundays River Valley packhouse

The town is quieter than yesterday when police were shooting teargas into crowds of protesters blocking the road into Moses Mabhida township. Rumours of loss of life during the protests are unfounded. The South African Police Service are still keeping a visible presence.

The Agricultural Business Chamber’s 2018 congress started today in Port Elizabeth, not far from the Sundays River Valley. Leaders from the influential business chamber have met with the Sundays River Producers Forum to talk about the strike. The citrus industry will doubtless use the opportunity to discuss the current labour climate with government officials, like the deputy-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mike Mlengana, who'll be in attendance.

The theme of the congress is ‘Uncertainty creates opportunity’, rather apt in light of the current situation in the Sundays River Valley.

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