We Demand The Release Of All Arrested Activists NOW!!

For Immediate Release: We Demand The Release Of All Activists NOW!!

Cape Town, 5 December 2012 – Two prominent activists from Mawubuye Land Rights Forum and the Coalition for Farm Workers Living Wage and Decent Living Conditions are still being detained in Montague police station.

Mercia Andrews, Denia Jansen and two others were arrested at approximately noon yesterday and have been denied justi

ce. 

The absence of a magistrate in Montague meant that they have had to remain in jail overnight.

18 were arrested in the Citrusdal area but were later released. 

The arrests came at the same time that Tony Ehrenreich, general secretary of COSATU, called off the strike in De Doorns.

Andrews and Jansen will appear this morning in Ashton Magistrates court at 10am.

For further information please contact:

Gavin Joachim – Director of Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) on 078 066 1662

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FARMWORKERS´  STRIKE (NOT?) OVER?
 

Farmworkers’ strike is over

December 5 2012 at 07:50am 
By Daneel Knoetze

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farm 1

REUTERS

A protester rolls a tyre into a burning barricade in Franshhoek. Photo: Reuters

 

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Western Cape – The general strike by workers in the province’s agricultural sector has been called off indefinitely, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich announced during a rally in De Doorns on Tuesday.

The decision and the premise on which it was made was welcomed by farmers approached by the Cape Argus.

Workers would be encouraged to unionise or to organise into collective bargaining bodies and to negotiate directly with their employers.

This echoed the sentiments of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies who addressed workers in De Doorns 24 hours before Cosatu’s announcement.

“The demand for a R150-a-day living wage remains unchanged,” Ehrenreich said, adding that a demand for farmworkers to have a share in the profits of the export harvest had been added.

“Workers will negotiate with their employers. We trust that agreements on farms could be reached through such a process.”

farm 2

A woman protester shouts out as she and others protest against low wages paid by farmers, by burning tires in the township at Franschhoek. Photo: AP

AP

Ehrenreich said strikes would resume on individual farms where agreements were not reached by January 9 next year.

This would coincide directly with “one of the most critical periods in the harvesting process, ensuring that farmers are under maximum pressure to reach an agreement with their workers before then”.

Unions, particularly Cosatu affiliate the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the independent Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa), have been signing up new members since the strike began four weeks ago.

But, in Fawu Western Cape chairman Timothy Ncwana’s words, the competition between the unions was distracting from the process of publicising workers’ grievances while the strike was still ongoing.

Unions will now have carte blanche to recruit members.

“But, workers rights will always be protected by Cosatu – whether they are members of a union or not. Cosatu commits to staying abreast of negotiations that will be ongoing, and will take steps to ensure that there is no abuse of workers in these negotiations,” Ehrenreich said.

Anton Rabe, spokesman for Agri SA, welcomed the announcement.

“From the beginning we have accepted that there are challenges in our industry. But throughout we have called for proper processes to be put in place to address these.

“This is a welcome step in the right direction. I have remained an optimist from day one that we would end this process better than we started it,” he said, referring to the start of the strike on November 5 when vineyards in De Doorns were torched and shops looted.

However, farmworker Monwabisi Kondile said he was unhappy because Cosatu had been “playing football with the workers”.

He said at one moment they said they should strike and the next that they should not.

The strikes due to resume on Tuesday had different levels of support in the province.

In Ceres, Pieter du Toit of the Du Toit Group estimated that close to 100 percent of the workforce had gone to work on Tuesday.

In De Doorns, while many workers supported the stayaway, many went to work.

In these two areas the strike went ahead with few reports of intimidation and violence.

By late on Tuesday, there was a tense stand-off between police and farmworkers in Rawsonville.

Farmworkers allege that police opened fire with rubber bullets at a taxi rank at about 3pm.

The workers had returned from a march, organised by the Farmworkers Coalition, during which a memorandum was handed over to the offices of Agri Wes Cape – which represents farmers’ interests – and the Department of Labour in Paarl.

“The workers who left Paarl were in a good mood. The workers that are here are angry and tense,” said Colette Solomon, acting director of Women on Farms who was on the scene.

She slammed the police for “inciting tension rather than defusing it”.

But the police said they were attacked by stone-throwers before firing rubber bullets.

In Montagu, two activists with Mawubuye Land Rights and three workers were arrested during a march, said Gavin Joachims, a colleague of the activists.

Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said seven people had been arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm on the N1 outside Worcester.

A .308 Mauser and 60 rounds of ammunition had been found in a vehicle and no one could produce a valid licence for their possession, Traut said.

The suspects, aged between 33 and 66, were due in court once they had been charged, he said.

Meanwhile, Franschhoek police confirmed that about 500 farmworkers took to the streets in the Groendal area on Tuesday, burning tyres and causing havoc on the town’s roads.

Constable Marize Papier said the protesters were kept off the farms, and that no farms had been damaged.

“At the moment everything is under control, it’s all quiet now.

“There were about 500 workers and no one went on the farms and no one demolished any property,” Papier said.

About 30 police officers had been deployed to the scene.

Traut said a number of people were arrested for public violence.

“I can’t give an exact number yet, but about 15 people were arrested and there were a number of people injured,” he added.

daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

Cape Argus

@  http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/farmworkers-strike-is-over-1.1435671#.UL8gXuMSVlQ

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see also:  http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/armed-men-arrested-as-farm-strike-resumes-1.1435550#.UL8hduMSVlQ

Armed men arrested as farm strike resumes

December 4 2012 at 09:17pm 
By SAPA

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IOL bus jul6 farm

Bloomberg

 

 

 Franschhoek – Police arrested seven armed men on Tuesday as farm workers in South Africa’s picturesque winelands resumed strike action, with tension enveloping the Western Cape region.

The men, suspected to be members of the far-right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), were found with one firearm and 60 rounds of ammunition at a roadblock leading to the epicentre of the farmworkers strike.

Regional police spokesman Andre Traut said the suspects aged between 33 and 66 years “were driving in the direction of De Doorns when their vehicle was searched.”

It was in De Doorns – outside Cape Town – that last month’s unrest began, leaving two dead and vineyards burnt.

On Tuesday, there were however few signs of a repeat of last month’s deadly violence as the strike resumed.

The strike, which comes at the start of South Africa’s grape harvest season, turned violent in November when workers burned vineyards, looted shops and blockaded streets with burning tyres in towns close to Cape Town.

Many of the farmers have since hired private security firms to protect their property while the police have sent hundreds of additional officers to monitor the area.

Mario Wanza, a spokesman for the Farmworkers Strike Coalition, said a number of farm workers and protests organisers were arrested after the police fired rubber bullets in the area of Paarl, in the orange farming town of Citrusdal and near the town of Montagu.

“A number of people were shot,” he said. “We expect the strike to carry on for a number of days.”

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said the situation in farming communities was “under control” late on Tuesday afternoon.

Porschia Adams, a spokeswoman for AgriWes-Cape, which represents farmers in the Western Cape province, said farm workers marched to the group’s offices in Paarl to hand over a memorandum of demands.

“About 200 people came in a group,” she said. “It was very small. Most of the areas today were quiet.”

Workers are demanding that their 70 rand ($8) daily wages be increased to 150 rand ($17).

Adams said a strike was unusual for the farming industry, where wage disputes were normally resolved “on the ground”.

“Farm workers do not normally strike. They are partners in business and they realise what their role is. They sort their issues out on the farm with the farmers.”

Adams said farmers were “reassessing their risks and thinking about alternatives” to using labour.

The fruit industry in the Western Cape employs around 200 000 permanent workers and 200 000 casual labourers.

Michael Loubser, a spokesman for Hex Valley Table Grape Farmers Association, said no violence had been reported early on Tuesday.

“About 95 percent of the permanent staff are at work today,” he said.

The only people who were not able to work were those from the nearby Stofland informal settlement, he said.

“The workers there have been told that if they go to work there will be consequences,” Loubser

said.

So far talks to end the dispute have remained deadlocked.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has said that the basic wage may only be reviewed one year after it was put in place, according to legislation, with the current level dating to March this year.

Tony Ehrenreich, the general secretary of Western Cape branch of union federation Cosatu, said discussions with farmers had been fruitless.

“So far our discussions have yielded no results.” – Sapa-AF

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About selcoolie

see: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/pdp/profile/A3SF2PCBUWC4UO?ie=UTF8&ref_=sv_w_h__4 briefly: Born in Cape Town, South Africa; moved to Sweden in1969 and completed studies in 1983, then moved to Norway and then to S.A. in 1993 - back to Norway in 2005, and been there ever since! E-mail: selimgool@yahoo.com Web Page: zcommunications/zspace/selcool In My Own Words: ¨ South African born ex-academic now retired, exiled and beyond redemption? Interests South African political economy and history; International Socialism and Marxist/Anarchist thought; anti-militarism and ecological questions My draft autobiography (ALL the "closet secrets" in the open! @ http://southafrica.indymedia.org/uploads/2006/02/an_odyssey___from_cape_town2.pdf Aslo view: http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2ZHOZT2GTDHU1

One response to “We Demand The Release Of All Arrested Activists NOW!!”

  1. selcoolie says :

    For more background and context, see earlier posts on the Farmworkers´ strikes in the Western Cape

    @ http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/nov2012/farm-n21.shtml

    South African farm workers’ strike spreads

    By Joshua Lumet and Iqra Qalam

    21 November 2012

    The three-week-long farm workers’ strike in the fertile farmlands of the Boland area in South Africa’s Western Cape Province has now spread to 24 different areas and has led to further violent clashes with police.

    The strike has hit grape and other fruit-producing areas of De Doorns, Ceres and Robertson. At least two more workers have been killed in confrontations with the South African Police Services (SAPS).

    The continued action in the Boland area is further evidence that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is losing its grip on South African workers.

    Union membership in the agricultural sector has dropped. Human Rights Watch estimated recently that less than three percent of all farm workers were union members.

    Farm workers, like their mineworker counterparts, are fed up at seeing the unions working against them and have begun to form rank-and-file committees. The decision to form such committees was taken at a meeting in Villiersdorp on Saturday.

    The South African Civil Society Information Service’s (SACSIS’s) Anna Majavu recently explained that because of the monopoly of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), “whose leaders and officials have long preferred compromise and co-determination over worker control, it has been difficult for mineworkers to strike—until the Marikana massacre.”

    Speaking about the farm workers, she continued, “it has possibly been even harder for farm workers to strike,” as striking farm workers often face losing their homes on farms….

    and @ http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/nov2012/farm-n26.shtml

    South African farmworkers speak on issues in strike

    By Joshua Lumet and Iqra Qalam
    26 November 2012

    Following a three-week long standoff with police, the militant uprising, in which two farmworkers were killed, was temporarily suspended after a meeting on November 19, involving farm workers, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

    COATSU and the main political parties, the ANC and the DA, are seeking to demobilize the farmworkers struggle, which follows and has been motivated by the eruption of strikes in the mining industries. Most of the farmworkers are not members of trade unions.

    For their part, farmworkers have given the government until December 4 to respond to their demands for an increase in the minimum daily wage from R70 (US$7.75) to R150 ($16.70).

    Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that the Employment Conditions Commission has met to decide on the basic level of pay for Western Cape farmworkers, but no decision has been made public yet.

    There is a great deal of money at stake for the South African ruling class. South Africa exports R3.5 billion worth of table grapes.

    The Hex River Valley—which includes De Doorns, the epicentre of worker unrest—makes up 34 percent of industry production by volume and 28 percent in value terms, according to Rhomona Gounden, manager for trade, marketing and communications at the South African Table Grape Industry.

    Striking farm workers brought the table grape industry to a standstill…..

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