Farmers, workers fail to meet
Business / 11 Jan '13, 4:43pm
Cape Town - Mystery surrounds the talks that were supposed to happen on Friday between a group of Western Cape table grape farmers and representatives of striking farm workers.
The talks were meant to happen mid-morning as announced by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich at a press conference on Thursday.
Police stand among rocks and burning barricades during a farm workers strike in De Doorns, on the N1 highway linking Cape Town and Johannesburg, January 9, 2013 . South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at hundreds of striking farm workers who blocked a highway in the grape-growing Western Cape on Wednesday, the first clashes of a year likely to be marked by fractious labour relations.
Bawsi Agricultural Workers Union of SA general secretary Nosey Pieterse and one farmer Gerhard de Kock accompanied Ehrenreich at the press conference.
Ehrenreich said the meeting would take place with about 28 other farmers whom he labelled “the good farmers”.
He said details of the meeting would be announced on Friday.
However‚ no announcement has been made and‚ apparently‚ no meeting took place.
De Kock said he had held a meeting with six other farmers in his office without union representatives to discuss the strike.
“No consensus was reached in that meeting‚” he said.
He said he had since held another meeting with some union representatives‚ including Ehrenreich‚ on his own‚ and that no finality had been reached.
He said he hoped to resume the meeting late on Friday.
Chairman of the Hex Rive Table Grape Growers Association Michael Laubscher said no such meeting between farmers and unions had been arranged.
“Only Mr De Kock arranged his own meeting‚” he said.
Neither Ehrenreich nor Pieterse were taking calls on Friday afternoon.
The Western Cape town of De Doorns‚ which has been the epicentre of the agricultural strike‚ remained quiet‚ although stones from the previous two days riots still blocked the N1 roadway.
Some striking workers said they had been expecting feed back from the meetings between the union leaders and farmers by midday. By 3pm‚ however‚ there was still no sign of them.
“We need the report back so we know what to do. The farmers must come to the table‚” one of the striking workers said.
Banter between patrolling policemen and strikers indicated that the weekend would be quiet but the rioting would start again on Monday.
“Make sure you rest this weekend‚ because we are going to make you busy on Monday‚” one striking farm worker shouted at police.
Since Wednesday policed have arrested 118 people on charges of public violence.
Farm workers are demanding an increase of their daily pay to R150 from R69. - I-Net Bridge