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Textile union Sactwu pledges R1m for farm workers union

Sapa

The SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) has pledged R1-million for the establishment of a formal farm workers' union.

The pledge included support for the establishment of a professionally run union for the farm workers. (Gallo)

"This is an act of concrete solidarity in our quest for a living wage and decent work for vulnerable workers, in true Cosatu tradition, " Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel said.

Kriel was speaking at a recruitment planning meeting of the Food & Allied Workers' Union (Fawu), held at the Fawu offices in Gugulethu, Cape Town.

The pledge included support for the establishment of a professionally run union for the farm workers.

Sactwu and Fawu are both affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

Kriel challenged other Cosatu affiliates to also make a pledge to support the formation of a union for farm workers.

Collective strength
"Press releases of support are not enough. Concrete action to build farm workers' organised collective strength is now urgently required," he said.

"If all Cosatu unions meet the Sactwu challenge, such a recruitment fund will result in a R26-million strong farm workers' recruitment fund, immediately."

Farmworkers in the Western Cape's De Doorns area went on strike last year, demanding the minimum daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a cohesive land reform programme be implemented.

On Monday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced a new minimum wage of R105 a day for farm workers – up from the current R69 a day – to take effect from March 1 this year.

Oliphant said an exemption from the new minimum wage would be available to farmers who could provide proof that their financial situation was so poor that they would be forced to shut down operations if their wage bill rose accordingly.

According to farmers' union TAU SA, they could not afford the new minimum daily wage announced by minister. Some farmers threatened to retrench workers saying they could not afford the new minimum wage.

At least 2 000 farmworkers had reportedly already been issued with notices of retrenchment, Business Day reported on Thursday.

By Wednesday the labour department had not received applications for a reprieve as offered by the department.  – Sapa

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