COSATU Trade unions shut down South African farm workers strike!

Trade unions shut down South African farm workers strike

By Iqra Qalam and Jashua Lumet 
8 December 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called off the strike of farm workers in the Western Cape Province on Tuesday, even though none of the demands of the farm workers has been met.

COSATU’s provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, made the announcement following a one-day action December 4, the deadline given by farm workers for the government to respond to demands for an increase in the minimum wage to R150 a day.

Before Tuesday’s action, the African National Congress government made clear that it would do nothing in response to the farm workers’ demands, instead relying on the services of COSATU and a network of pseudo-left organizations to suppress the strike and get them back to work for the remainder of the grape harvesting season.

Ehrenreich declared, “An agreement put forward by Agri SA contains the basis of the accord that temporarily ends this strike,” He said Agri SA, which represented farm owners, “essentially commits” itself to negotiations to be held farm-by-farm. Talks would be about the wage demand of a R150 per day and a profit-sharing scheme.

By trying to contain any discussion over the conditions of workers to a farm-by-farm process, COSATU is seeking to prevent a unified struggle. ANC Agricultural Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said Wednesday that the farm-by-farm negotiations would be followed by government discussions on an overall minimum wage later next year.

Grateful for the intervention of the government and the union, Gerhard de Kock, chairman of the Cape Orchard Alliance which owns 12 farms in the valley, said labour relations on Normandy farm had improved in the wake of recent strikes. “All change is painful, but to resist change can be more painful. I have tried to see the unrest as an opportunity for better relations rather than a tragedy,” he said.

There is widespread scepticism among the workers. Commenting on the demobilization of collective action, Moos Arries, who works on the Mooigesig farm in De Doorns, told the World Socialist Web Site, “It looks like we will now be negotiating on every farm for a better living and we don’t know when this process will be finished.”

Willem Koopman from the Morgenson farm noted that while Agri SA and the government have shown a willingness to negotiate, nothing has effectively changed in their lives “because we have not seen any increase in our living conditions and therefore it looks like we are in for the long haul.”

The ruling class was shocked by the eruption of the farm workers’ strike, which began independently of the unions. The initial eruption of working class opposition, inspired by the struggles of mine workers, quickly spread to dozens of towns. As with the miners, farm workers have been regularly attacked by the South African Police Service, with two workers killed in confrontations.

The ANC, together with the Democratic Alliance (DA), which governs in the Western Cape province, responded by calling on the services of COSATU. This was combined with the threat of force, with DA Premier Helen Zille urging the intervention of the military.

On November 19, the strike was temporarily suspended after a series of meetings involving farm workers, COSATU, the ANC and the DA. This served to remove all initiative from the workers, paving the way for this week’s agreement.

 

On November 20, representatives of the farm workers told the ANC and the DA they had until December 4 to institute the minimum daily wage of R150 or face renewed protest. It was on this basis that COSATU, in order to head off the development of an insurrectionary movement, moved to present itself in a more radical guise and supportive of the strike’s extension, the better to keep it under control. To this end COSATU sanctioned a single day of action in the agricultural sector for December 4.

Speaking about the decision, Ehrenreich said COSATU had done all they could to avert further stoppages and threatened, “This strike … can set back labour relations on farms by decades and could see a reversal to the low-level civil war we all witnessed on farms a few weeks ago.”

Ehrenreich is a time-served bureaucrat and member of the ruling ANC that sanctioned the brutal massacre of striking platinum miners at Lonmin, Marikana in August. Last week the DA charged him with inciting violence. This was due to his image being used on the poster of a COSATU-affiliated trade union, under which was written the slogan, “FEEL IT!!! Western Cape Marikana is here!!” This was a reference to comments Ehrenreich had reportedly made earlier in the dispute: “The ill treatment and underpayment of workers by some farmers must stop, otherwise we will see a Marikana in De Doorns.”

In response to the DA’s charges, Ehrenreich spoke candidly about his and COSATU’s role in the dispute, aimed at strangling a movement of workers outside of the control of the trade unions and in opposition in the ANC. He stated, “I used Marikana as a parallel to what’s happening at the farms because workers went ahead without the guidance of unions and the danger for things getting out of hand is greater, without unions.”

The unions now hope to utilize the prospect of an Agri-SA deal to try and establish their control over an increasingly restive section of the working class. Union membership in the agricultural sector is currently estimated at less than 3 percent. “This agreement means that workers will return to work and join any union of their choice,” said Ehrenreich. “These unions will negotiate with the farmers on the different farms.”

 

In addition to COSATU and the ANC, a crucial role in sabotaging the strike was played by a network of organizations, including the United Democratic Front, recently relaunched by Mario Wanza, a former leading ANC activist. Wanza and the UDF have postured as a more militant opposition, while seeking to pressure COSATU and the ANC and prevent any struggle against the capitalist system. Wanza’s attempt to revive the UDF is part of an effort to establish a new organization to contain and channel growing mass hostility to the establishment parties in South Africa.

At the height of the anti-Apartheid struggle, the UDF had around 3 million members. Seeking to unite conflicting class forces, its slogan was the “UDF Unites, Apartheid Divides.” This political perspective subordinated the working class to a pro-capitalist perspective and a movement dominated by the ANC and a leadership whose aim was to secure their own advancement into the ranks of the bourgeoisie that proved instrumental in the survival of capitalism in South Africa.

 

Another organization involved in the strike is the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO). It is the umbrella group for many social sector non-government organizations. They are beholden to the capitalist class for donations and grants to finance their activities and are obliged to protect the interests of large farming corporations. SANGOCO has been actively promoting the idea that the farm workers must simply try to “influence national development policy.”

The interests of farm workers and other sections of the working class in South Africa cannot be realized within the framework of these organizations. The basic rights of workers—including for a decent wage and quality housing—can be realized only through their independent organisation in a political struggle for socialism against the ANC, COSATU and the capitalist profit system that they defend.

@ http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/dec2012/soaf-d08.shtml

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Even billionaires pay farmworkers badly

December 8 2012 
By HENRIËTTE GELDENHUYS


iol pic sa nt tokyo again

photo: Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.

 Related Stories

South Africa’s billionaire wine farm owners Tokyo Sexwale and Johann Rupert pay their workers the same as farmers across the board – described as “slave wages” by Cosatu.

The Saturday Star established from interviews this week with farmworkers at Sexwale’s wine estate Bloemendal in Durbanville and Rupert’s L’Ormirans in Franschhoek that seasonal workers earn a minimum of R80 a day, or an average R1 733 a month.

Rupert, the second-richest person in South Africa and third-richest in Africa, is reportedly worth R44.26bn.

He made his money from Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that owns Cartier, Dunhill, Chloe bags and MontBlanc pens.

Sexwale, South Africa’s human settlements minister, is reportedly worth R16.7bn.

The wages their workers said they earned are the same as those earned by the lowest-skilled and seasonal farmworkers in towns such as De Doorns, where farmworkers burnt down vineyards, and in Ceres, where they burnt down storage facilities and machinery during recent violent strikes over their demand for a R150 a day minimum wage.

The majority of farmers pay R80 a day for seasonal workers, about R11 more than the minimum wage set down by the government of R69 a day (about R1 481 a month).

Permanent farmworkers on all the farms, including on those belonging to Sexwale and Rupert, earn slightly more.

A discussion with a group of tractor drivers at Bloemendal revealed they earn R560 a week (R112 a day, or about R2 420 a month).

Bloemendal tractor driver Roger September said workers used to receive all the wood pieces cut from trees on the farm, which they sold to help pay school fees and buy uniforms. They were upset this privilege was taken away six months ago, he said.

Peter Presence, national treasurer of CSAAWU, the commercial stevedoring, agricultural and allied workers’ union, which represents Bloemendal farmworkers, said permanent workers were paid from R110 to R140 a day, a 13th cheque and long service bonus.

At L’Ormirans, irrigation assistants said they earned R2 898 a month (R133 a day or R667 a week).

On the neighbouring Antonij Rupert wine estate, also owned by Johann Rupert, a worker at a bottling plant said he earned R3 500 a month.

The Saturday Star understands from interviews with farmworkers and CSAAWU that farmworkers at Sexwale and Rupert’s farms protested peacefully at the beginning of the strike, but not again this week.

They were also not involved in any violence during the strike.

Strike action started early in November and spread to 15 towns in the Western Cape.

It has been put on hold over the holiday season, with plans to see it resumed on January 9.

The highest-paid workers on Sexwale and Rupert’s farms said they would be astonished, but very happy, if the strikers’ demand for a R150 a day minimum was granted as it would push up their earnings considerably.

Like most farmworkers in the Western Cape, those on the billionaires’ farms get free accommodation, water and electricity.

Transport and crèche facilities are also provided.

Rupert’s accommodation for farmworkers, Dennegeur, looks like an upmarket security estate.

L’Ormirans farmworkers own their own piece of land inside the Dennegeur complex, where they grow mealies, beans, pumpkins, sweet melons and watermelons.

Rupert said he paid each worker R2 000 as an end-of-year bonus.

At Sexwale’s Bloemendal, workers receive two free chickens a week, and transport to doctors and hospitals.

 by henriette.geldenhuys@inl.co.za

Saturday Star @ http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/even-billionaires-pay-farmworkers-badly-1.1437629#.UMS1fuMSVlQ

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BUSINESS DAY EDITORIAL: Anarchy in the workplace

06.des.2012 

The truths offered by Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll that anarchy in the workplace benefits no one ring especially true with regard to the recent farm sector unrest

ALTHOUGH directed at the mining industry, the truths offered by departing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll in a speech at the Gordon Institute of Business Science last week ring especially true with regard to the recent unrest in the Western Cape farm sector.

In an inspirational speech on the future of the mining industry after the violent strike and deaths at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, Ms Carroll said anarchy in the workplace benefits no one and that there is no future for any society without law and order.

This week, most striking Western Cape farm workers and Agri-SA reached agreement to cease strike action and start farm-level wage talks, a welcome move that follows several weeks of protests that have resulted in two deaths and R15m in damages.

Sector-wide minimum wages and an attempt to extend these to annual wage agreements in the farm sector have been criticised for not taking into consideration differences in profitability between different types of farms.

Minimum wages cannot be set in an arbitrary manner — pay must be at a level that ensures industry profitability or there will be job losses.

This is best done farm by farm.

Yesterday’s agreement comes just days after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies punted collective bargaining as the solution to the conflict.

But one only has to look at the domestic clothing and textile industry to see the damage sector-wide wage agreements that are imposed on firms can do.

The downside of the deal is that, in the course of negotiations, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich promised that unions, together with the Department of Social Development, would distribute food parcels to the families of workers who had been on strike.

If the strike resumed next year, workers would be able to use their food parcels to sustain themselves, he said.

Mr Ehrenreich said the food parcels were part of a “public-private partnership”, yet it seems they are to be supplied by the South African Social Services Agency under the banner of the national Department of Social Development.

These temporary social relief or distress grants take the form of a food parcel or voucher and are usually made available to individuals who are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs, and then only until permanent social assistance is made available.

There is no question that families in acute social distress should be given state assistance.

However, it is not acceptable for a union to encourage workers to strike in the first instance and then appropriate the resources of a national government department to mitigate the consequences of this action.

When those food parcels are handed out, Mr Ehrenreich will no doubt do his utmost to ensure that Cosatu gets the credit.

The Department of Social Development already provides for families and individuals in need through a wide range of social grants and services.

Extensive means testing ensures that these grants target the most needy in society.

For Cosatu to step in and attempt to supplant the role of a national department is cheeky at best, and undermines the law and order that Ms Carroll rightly asserts is so necessary.

There may be an argument that, on a pragmatic level, offering food parcels as a bargaining chip to negotiate a suspension of the strike prevented further upheaval in the industry.

It is highly likely that, if an agreement had not been reached on Tuesday, the strike would have continued and there would have been destruction of property and further loss of life.

That said, offering state support to striking workers sets a very dangerous precedent and creates a perverse incentive that undermines law and order and promotes anarchic labour relations.

 @ http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/editorials/2012/12/06/editorial-anarchy-in-the-workplace

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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

4 responses to “COSATU Trade unions shut down South African farm workers strike!”

  1. selcoolie says :

    12 December 2012

    Tony Ehrenreich warns that strike action will resume on Jan 9 on those farms where there is no agreement

    COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary,

    Tony Ehrenreich, has sent to following letter on 11 December 2012:

    To Agri-South Africa – Carl Opperman

    To Minister of Agriculture – Honourable Minister Ms Tina Joemat-Petterson

    To Minister of Labour – Honourable Minister Ms Mildred Oliphant

    To organisations and unions

    And: To CCMA

    Per: Mr. Leon Levy

    On-going developments in agriculture in relation to the farm protests

    From COSATU on behalf of farm workers

    Dear Colleagues

    Please receive correspondence from our offices in relation to developments in the farm protest actions.

    We have, as COSATU, been asked by the workers to clearly communicate their message to the parties concerned.

    The workers have made it clear that they will not be constrained from pursuing protest for justice and fair wages on the farms, by technicalities and legalities.

    As far as the workers are concerned their struggle for an end to apartheid relations on farms have not been suspended, only the strike was suspended until 9 January 2013.

    The workers have elected to take the offer put forward by the representatives of the Agri SA for farm level negotiations, and to commence engagements in this “farm by farm” level’ negotiations immediately.

    These negotiations will be assisted by unions, NGO and workers committees, and will discuss the R150 wage demand as well as the profit sharing.

    Farmers are urged to not put in place technicalities to restrict union access to farms and to facilitate these engagements and negotiations.

    The Strike will continue on the 9 January on those farms where there is no agreement, as well as the reporting to foreign markets on specific farmers not cooperating with this process.

    The farms where disciplinary action and dismissal of workers as a result of strike participation has been initiated by farmers to intimidate farm workers – will see strike action taking place if those workers are not reinstated by the 19 December 2012.

    The CCMA will assist in facilitating access to farms and getting resolutions on dismissals and victimisations, where these have been opposed by farmers’ attitude and conduct.

    As COSATU we will also be making representations to the Minister of Justice to have charges dropped against workers for protesting against slave wages.

    This message is communicated by COSATU, to all parties, on behalf of the workers who have elected to take up this struggle against oppression.

    Albeit that COSATU is not the representative union of the workers, we have been requested to, and therefore are purely assisting and supporting the workers to find a negotiated settlement that would avoid violence and dissent.

    We believe, as COSATU, that the call by workers to still pursue the construction of good relations with decent farm owners, to be the desired route, while equally understanding that exploitation and oppression should not be allowed to continue in South Africa, for one more day.

    Ons will n nasie bou met regte boere, maar ons will weg maak met slegte boere.

    Yours Faithfully

    Tony Ehrenreich

    Provincial Secretary

    C.c. to All Agricultural organisations

    Issued by COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, December 12 2012

    @ http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page72308?oid=346887&sn=Marketingweb+detail&pid=90389

  2. Sel Cool says :

    De Doorns’ darkest day

    January 10 2013 at 07:49am
    By Daneel Knoetze
    Comment on this story

    CAPE ARGUS
    A protester flees as police fire rubber bullets at a large crowd on the N1 in De Doorns. Photo: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus
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    Western Cape – Journalists were attacked, vehicles torched and the N1 outside De Doorns was closed by a group of 7 000 striking farmworkers on Wednesday while police retaliated with rubber bullets.

    It will go down as the most violent day of strikes in De Doorns since November 5, when vineyards were burned and shops looted in the Boland town.

    Shortly after 10am, Nosey Pieterse, general secretary of the Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa), lead a crowd of around 3 000 people from Stofland informal settlement onto the N1 outside De Doorns.

    At that time the road had already been closed due to clashes between police and strikers.

    The crowd on the N1 swelled to an estimated 7 000 people. Veld fires were lit along the way and buildings were damaged.

    Police drew the line when strikers started moving down the main road leading into De Doorns.

    A farmworker points his fighting stick at police as if it is a gun, during a demonstration due to low wages in the town of Grabouw. Photo: AP
    AP
    They pushed the crowd back with armoured vehicles and foot patrols firing rubber bullets at will.

    The injured were taken to De Doorns local clinic and some were transferred to a hospital in Worcester.

    Strikers responded to the shooting by pelting police with stones. A police captain was injured in the violence.

    During one of these exchanges, a car owned by Independent Newspapers was caught in the crossfire. The two occupants were journalists with the Cape Times – Xolani Koyana and intern Aw Cheng Wei.

    An eyewitness to the attack, who asked not to be named, said the vehicle was obstructing strikers from reaching a police caspir – which they apparently intended to torch.

    “It was unbelievably scary and chaotic. That sight is still haunting me – people just lost control. I have never seen anything like it,” she said.

    Thousands of people marched on the N1 during the farms protest. Police used gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to try to control the crowds. Photo: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus
    CAPE ARGUS
    The two reporters inside were forced to huddle on the floor of the vehicle while protesters smashed the windows and jumped on the roof.

    They eventually escaped and, with the assistance of ANC ward councillor Pat Marran, were whisked to safety. At the house of Andries Kraukamp, a local pastor, they were treated for minor injuries and lacerations from the broken glass.

    When the Cape Argus interviewed them, they were clearly still in shock.

    “We are just so thankful to the people that helped us escape. Everything happened so quickly, in a matter of split seconds the situation was out of control,” said Koyana.

    A petrol bomb, which was apparently intended for the police caspir, was thrown into the car after it was overturned.

    Cape Argus photographer Henk Kruger was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet fired by police.

    During an emergency address to strikers at the nearby Stofland sports field, Pieterse condemned the attack.

    “The journalists are our messengers and allies. How can we get the message of the exploitation, the attacks by police and the suffering of farmworkers out to the world if we attack the very people who make this possible?” he said.

    He simultaneously turned on police, saying that they were the real “enemy” and blaming them for “all of the violence that had taken place”.

    This message was echoed by the Food and Allied Workers Union’s (Fawu) representative Sandile Keni.

    Asked about these accusations, police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said that “acts of violence associated with the farmworkers’ strike action in De Doorns and other areas have necessitated SAPS to take appropriate action”.

    He said that complaints regarding police actions can be reported to the station commander of the police station where the incident occurred, or directed to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for an independent investigation.

    Traut added that a total of 44 people had been arrested on charges of intimidation and public violence in the areas of Grabouw, De Doorns and Somerset West.

    Meanwhile, strikers remained firm on their demand for a “living wage” of R150 a day. They related anecdotes about the difficult conditions under which they work and the impossibility of living with “decency and providing for our children with the dismal wages which we earn”.

    This third round of strikes comes at a time when many farmers are preparing to harvest their annual crops of fruit and grapes. This is the most labour-intensive time in Western Cape’s agricultural sector.

    “This has gone completely too far; someone or something has got to give. We’re now seriously beginning to lose money, and I don’t think that the general public has an idea of how this will affect the industry, the availability of employment for workers next season and the economy of the region as a whole,” said Jacques Beukes, owner of Modderdrift table grape farm outside De Doorns.

    Beukes admitted that the intensity of Wednesday’s strike took employers in the region by surprise.

    “These are the three months that the farms make all the money to sustain themselves over the coming year. Many farmers cannot afford to pay what is being asked of us. We are standing at a cliff with a gun to our heads, either we get shot or we jump to our dooms,” he said.

    The strikes are set to continue on Thursday.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

  3. Sel Cool says :

    Blog: terrybellwrites.com

    THE BOLAND UPHEAVAL & FAILING THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR
    South Africa has continued to fail the children of the poor and is once again reaping the results of that failure. Nowhere is this more evident than in the recurrent violent eruptions in the fruit and wine farm regions of the Western Cape.
    At a time when there is every indication internationally that the average farmer and permanent farm worker is middle aged or older — and South Africa is probably no exception — it is youth that has blockaded roads and battled police. And the overwhelming majority of the protestors are seasonal workers, the unemployed or partially employed who erupt from the shackland sprawls that now festoon the region.
    Un or ill-educated and denigrated by poverty, many of these generally young people gained a sense of self worth for the first time by being able to stand up against what they perceive to be the symbols of their oppression. At this level, what happened in the Boland may be categorised as an anarchic celebration of the oppressed.
    This does not in any way justify the often senseless vandalism and the short-sighted calls from often self-styled leaders for blanket boycotts of all produce from the Western Cape. What it should do is raise questions of responsibility for what has happened; such questions are essential for a real understanding of the issues — and only by dealing with these can there be any hope of long term solutions, let alone adequate intermediate steps.
    It is certainly true that many — a probable majority — of farm owners possess feudal attitudes that are at best paternalistic and at worst akin to the acceptance of the virtual slavery enshrined in the masters and servants laws of apartheid. It is also true, as Cosatu regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich, has conceded, that government imposed the now widely derided R69 a day minimum payment to farm workers.
    However, this rate was imposed by government not only in consultation and agreement with the farming lobby, but also with at least the acquiescence of Cosatu. Ehrenreich has said that, during tripartite discussions about the sectoral determination of the minimum wage, Cosatu lodged objections, presumably that the rate was too low. That may be so, but the union federation neither said nor did anything about this until the Boland erupted.
    Yet the fact that protests were brewing has been obvious for several years, often evidenced in the emergence of small, under resourced unions fighting bitter and frequently losing battles against the abuse of workers on farms and in abattoirs and related industries in the region. Their fights and their warnings about the possible consequences of ignoring the ongoing exploitation of many in the farming communities were largely ignored.
    At the same time, the steady influx of job seekers from outlying rural areas and from neighbouring states continued, adding to a volatile mix that initially exploded in xenophobic violence in 2008. Non-governmental organisations, including tiny political groups pushing ideological barrows, moved in to try to ameliorate or to take advantage of developments. But the farming lobby remained aloof, as did government and the mainstream trade unions.
    Long gone were the days reported by Food and Allied Workers’ Union honorary president, the late “Mama Ray” Alexander, and noted in this column in 1997. At that time, Mama Ray bewailed the fact that dividends, commissions, directorships and market ratings had become of great concern to the unions. It was a far cry from the days, she said, when organisers “slept on the floors of labourers’ cottages” as they recruited farm and ancillary workers to the union.
    And so, for years, the farming and its related forestry sector remained neglected. Business as usual continued, although this meant a steady increase in the anger simmering beneath the surface of agrarian calm. Then came Marikana, in a South Africa and a world where instant communication is the norm.
    The fact that miners at Lonmin had apparently stood up against the might of the bosses and state forces provided an inspiration to the poor and downtrodden. In the Boland the news came as the main harvesting season was about to start and seasonal workers — essential to the process — were about to receive their few months of paid employment.
    Whether this work is paid for at R69 a day or R84, as the farmer lobby claims, is irrelevant. At either level, this is insufficient to feed, clothe and house a family in the South Africa of 2013. And even more so when the guaranteed income is available for only three or four months.
    So the scene was set when word of Marikana reached the Boland. The small and militant Commercial Stevedoring and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu) that has been particularly active in the Robertson area, hailed the Marikana strikers “in their struggle against bosses and a system that steals from us and murders us”.
    Csaawu pledged to continue the local fight “against exploitation and for a living wage” in solidarity with the miners of Marikana. The slogan raised in September was: “Enough is enough! For a rural land free of hunger and poverty.”
    Still, the powers that be, on the farms, in government and in the offices of mainstream unions did nothing, leading to accusations that they all shared responsibility for the continuing oppression of the poor and dispossessed. “Cosatu is part of a government of the bosses,” is a fairly common refrain among the more politically aware among the Boland protestors.
    But, for many youth, all authority is anathema and democratic organisation an abstract notion. In a dog eat dog world, they have no hope and live merely to grab what they can, when they can and where they can.
    To be able to exercise some power, to cause the police to retreat, to burn and to plunder with apparent impunity, provides a temporary feeling of being in control — and powerful — for perhaps the first time ever. This is the real sadness of the Boland and a glaring example of how the system as a whole has failed, especially the children of the poor.

    Terry Bell

  4. Sel Cool says :

    see also: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page72308?oid=350630&sn=Marketingweb+detail&pid=90389

    COSATU in provinces backs WCape farmworkers’ strike
    COSATU Provinces
    15 January 2013

    ECape concerned at levels of violence and intimidation by farmers’ security guards

    COSATU Eastern Cape:

    COSATU Eastern Cape Press Statement in support of farm workers’ strike

    COSATU Eastern Cape would like to express its full support for farm workers in the Western Cape and elsewhere in their strike for a minimum wage of R150. The first three days of the resumed strike last week saw numerous violent confrontations between police and protesters, cars destroyed, motorists stoned, roads blockaded, numerous injuries and at least 125 arrests across the Boland. Two protestors in De Doorns died during the first round of the strike and several dozen were injured.

    Farm workers are amongst the most exploited and downtrodden of all sections of the working class and are often forced to accept low-paid seasonal work, and despite being situated in some of the wealthiest farming areas in the country, often live in unsanitary and inadequate accommodation on and near farms. Many remain unorganised and subject to harsh and sometimes brutal working conditions. Despite the introduction of a new regime of labour legislation since 1994, conditions of employment on many farms continue to resemble those of some of the worst days of apartheid….

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