Cape farmworker strike declared illegal - Times LIVE
Sat May 27 11:50:46 SAST 2017

Cape farmworker strike declared illegal

QUINTON MTYALA | 2013-11-13 13:12:29.0
Farmworkers march for higher wages during a strike called by the Confederation of South African Trade Unions in Franschoek, near Cape Town. File photo

A farmworkers strike which turned violent on Monday has been declared illegal by the Labour Court.

This after the Le Roux Group, which owns the farm sought to have the strike ruled illegal and to prevent Bawsi Agriculture Workers Union Secretary Nosey Pieterse, or his shopstewards, from organising on the farms.

Cape Town labour court Judge Anton Steenkamp also ruled that Bawusa had to obtain written permission from the Le Roux Group to organise workers on its Broodkraal Estate.

All workers participating in the strike could now face dismissal.

On Monday farmworkers on the Sandrivier Estate faced off against each other, in a battle over whether they should join the strike which led to the burning of a field, a truck and almost a multimillion rand pack store.

Outside court, Pieterse who is also an ordained minister, said he was a man of peace.

“But it doesn't mean that I'm not a man of war. In the absence of justice there will always be war,” said Pieterse.

His union was instrumental in last year's farmworkers strike over increased wages, and better working conditions on farms.

Farmworkers eventually got an improvement to their minimum wages from R69 to R105 per day but Bawusa have charged that workers have seen no real improvement in the pockets.

And instead farmers have circumvented the new minimum wage determination by adding numerous deductions to the wages of farmworkers.

In his responding affidavit, Pieterse included the payslip of a worker, NS Maano, from Broodkraal who although he was paid R394,70 in one week, his deductions came to R389,80 which meant that his take-home pay was R4,90.

But AgriWes, which represents farmers, insisted that the deductions were lawful and had been done in consultation with the workers.

Pieterse said it was for this reason that he had gone to organise workers on the Le Roux Group's farms.

“I'm going to go to Broodkraal and could be arrested but I guess I will have to be standing on the road,” said Pieterse tongue in cheek outside the court.

Le Roux Group spokesman Gerrit de Beer welcomed the Labour Court ruling, and said it was good news for the workers and the company.

“We went to court to defend our workers against intimidation,” said De Beer.

While the harvesting season had not yet started, De Beer said the strike, which Bawsi claimed had 2000 participants, could negatively impact production.

“We're havesting grapes from December, and we're busy harvesting desiduous fruits,” said De Beer.


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