Agriculture minister to hold urgent meeting on De Doorns

On Tuesday she planned to meet farmworker representatives in Cape Town, the Star reported. 

Her spokesperson Palesa Mokomele said on Monday that she planned to meet with, among others, represeprentatives of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and AgriSA. They would discuss the farmworkers' national minimum wage, currently R69.99 a day.

The De Doorns farmworkers want R150.

Last week protesters in De Doorns blocked the N1 highway in the area and set vineyards alight. They said they had heard the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) was representing them. Most said they had no formal representation.

Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said workers rejected an offer of R80 a day, and called on them to stay away from work on Monday. He said farmworkers in Mpumalanga had started striking.

Western Cape agriculture forum Agri Wes-Cape called on farmworkers to return to work as the table grape season was in full swing.

Taking action
Meanwhile, 11 people were arrested after police "took action" against protesting farmworkers in De Doorns on Monday, Western Cape police said.

"The situation at De Doorns is still tense," spokesperson Colonel Andre Traut said.

He said violence broke out in the area when a group of around 80 people carrying sticks and pangas intimidated farmworkers and prevented them from going to work.

"We took action," said Traut. He wouldn't say what measures were used, but SABC radio news reported rubber bullets were fired.

Ten people were arrested for public violence, and another one for intimidation.

ANC Western Cape legislature spokesperson Koos Grobler said he had been told by an ANC councillor in the area that police were breaking up groups of five people walking together and that there were police helicopters, and privately hired helicopters, in the air.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is attending a conference abroad. – Sapa

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