Farm worker struggles: Organise for R150 per day!
dave.bangs at virgin.net
Mon Jan 28 13:33:21 GMT 2013
From: Democratic Left Front Media <democraticleftfrontmedia at gmail.com>
Sent: Sun, 27 Jan 2013 23:48
Subject: Farm worker struggles: Organise for R150 per day!
DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT
www.democraticleft.za.net 28 January 2013 PRESS STATEMENT ON FARM
WORKER STRUGGLESORGANISE FOR R150 PER DAY! OUR STRUGGLE CONTINUES!
The Democratic Left Front (DLF) salutes farm workers fortheir historic
stand against exploitation and calls on progressive forces tointensify
efforts to organise, mobilise and advance the struggle for R150per
day. The struggle of the Western Cape farm workers is not onlyagainst
starvation wages but the system of baasskapoppression that has remained
This has been more than a strike, it has been a popular rebellion and
thedemand for R150 per day is symbolic of a greater struggle to
transform therural countryside and for radical agrarian transformation
includingredistribution of land.
The strike represents a huge step forward in the morale,
confidence,organisation and spirit of farm workers and farm dwellers.
The strike on the farms, like the mines before, reflects a growing
preparednessof the working class of South Africa to challenge the
system of profit, lowwages and economic apartheid.
Organising amongst farm workers is a herculean task. Farms are
separated bygreat distances and owners prevent unionists from gaining
access to workers.They threaten those that take a stand with physical
violence, eviction andlegal harassment. There is total disregard for
labour regulations and theconstitutional right to organise. Famers use
labour brokers and casualisationto weaken the power of workers. The
police have colluded in this - arrestingand brutalising worker leaders
and closing roads to prevent the free movementof organisers.
Despite these obstacles farm workers have mobilised, blocked national
roadsand shut down production in a number of areas - in defiance of the
policewho have responded with excessive brutality. Three workers have
now beenkilled. The responsibility for the violence lies at the
police's feet. Some ofour activists have been denied the due process of
the law and remain in jail.Several activists, local leaders from
Mawubuye and CSAAWU have been detainedsince 9th January.
Throughout these three months of protests and strikes, commercial
farmers haveremained intransigent and arrogant refusing to engage with
the unions andfarm workers committees. This is an indication of the
complete lack oftransformation in the countryside. It is clear that
apartheid is alive and wellin many parts of South Africa.
The strike over the last three months is all the more remarkable
because ofthis. But the struggle is not over. The farmers claim they
cannot affordR150 per day. In fact, most can and must pay now. The
desire for high profitscannot be used to deny decent wages. If farms
cannot pay they must beexpropriated and placed under workers control.
The government has failed outright to deliver on land reform. They have
made noeffort to assist workers and have provided cover for the
farmer'sintransigence. A government that served the poor and exploited
would instituteimmediate radical agrarian transformation. It would
redistribute land andprovide assistance to farm workers and small
farmers to create an agriculturalsystem based on human need, food
security and ecological sustainability insteadof profit maximisation.
It would end disastrous liberalisation and deregulation policies,
providesubsidies to small farmers and curtail the monopoly power of
retailers that areappropriating most of value in the sector.
The DLF demands, at the very least, that the government institute a
minimumwage of R150 at its sectoral determination in March and take
measures toenforce the labour law on farms!
The DLF demands an investigation into all acts of police brutality; we
demandthe demilitarisation of the police! We demand the immediate,
unconditionalrelease of all workers and the dropping of charges!
Legitimate struggles arebeing criminalised.
Finally, the DLF also demands the right of farm workers to mobilise
themselves,join unions and political organisations of their choice
without victimisation.We commit to continuing the struggle for radical
agrarian transformation thatprioritises food sovereignty over profits.
ENDS.For comments, contact:KAREL SWARTZ (072)991 3371BRIAN ASHLEY
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