South Africa: Worker's strikes carried out without incident

Tuesday saw further strikes by the South African farm workers. But this time the protest went without major incident.

According to Anton Rabe, chief executive of Hortgro and chair of AgriSA’s labour and social policy committee, the strike was carried out by mainly farm workers and was well controlled by local police. He says this proves that previous violence was carried out by people with a more political objective.

Following talks on Monday no agreement was made on increasing the minimum wage, but Rabe said an increase to 150 Rand was not feasible at the present time. He said that there is always room for improvement, but working conditions, living conditions, benefits and bonuses should also be considered. He also stated that many households earn well above the minimum wage, some up to 120-130 Rand when bonuses are included.

The social problems are real though, with so many seasonal workers flocking to the area in search of work. Different models are being looked at for improving the situation. The danger is that growers will go towards automation, Anton agrees, but also says that growers and workers will always need each other.

Any further strike action has been cancelled for the meantime and on 9 January a review process will begin. A new minimum wage is due to be set on 1st March next year.

As for production and export there has been very little disruption, some key production processes were affected initially and stone fruit harvesting and packing was affected.


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