Farm worker struggles: Organise for R150 per day!

david bangs dave.bangs at
Mon Jan 28 13:33:21 GMT 2013

From: Democratic Left Front Media <democraticleftfrontmedia at>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Sent: Sun, 27 Jan 2013 23:48
Subject: Farm worker struggles: Organise for R150 per day!


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 
since Apartheid.

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 
(082)085 7088

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