Farmworkers' wages will be renegotiated: Oliphant

14 November 2012 - 18:52 By Sapa
Mildred Oliphant. File photo.
Mildred Oliphant. File photo.

The R70 a day minimum wage for farmworkers will be cancelled and renegotiated, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Wednesday.

Oliphant said she would publish a notice to cancel the current sectoral determination for agriculture after farmworkers in the Western Cape embarked on a protest demanding higher wages.

"The sectoral [determination] sets out the minimum wages that people need to be paid in that specific sector," she said in a statement.

"In the inspections that have been conducted, we have found that some farms paid more than the minimum and I believe that is the right thing to do."

Western Cape police have confirmed that a man was killed and five other people were injured during protests about wages in Wolseley on Wednesday morning.

Lt-Col Andre Traut said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) would investigate.

"The man died as a result of police action, but we cannot give more details of the incident," he said.

"Reports of a farmer being killed by a mob of farmworkers in the province are not true. Those allegations are false."

IPID spokesman Moses Dlamini said an investigator was on his way to the scene where the protester was shot to get more details.

"I can confirm that one person was killed. However we only have a report that three were injured. An investigator is on his way to gather more details."

Earlier, Democratic Alliance spokesman Zak Mbhele said unconfirmed reports received by the party indicated that a farmer had been killed in the province.

"Another unconfirmed report is that a farmer was attacked by a mob of protesters and beaten to death. We have no further details at this stage."

Oliphant said she would publish a notice indicating the intent to call all interested parties to comment on the sectoral determination by next Friday.

"I would also like to call on all the parties that have been involved in the current negotiations in the farms in the Western Cape to intensify their effort to resolve the current impasse," she said.

"The negotiations and the resolution should be pursued over and above the other efforts like re-looking at the sectoral determination, which process may take a while to conclude."

The Employment Condition Commission would also meet Oliphant next Wednesday to discuss further intervention in the farming sector, the labour department said.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is expected to brief the media at 4.30pm in Cape Town on the updates in the farming sector wage dispute.

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley have been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding R150 a day.

Most earn between R69 and R75 a day, with R80 being the highest and only offer from farmers so far.

Protesters have been blocking roads and burning tyres across the province.

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