Agri SA welcomes the end of the farm workers strike in the Western Cape

“Cosatu’s announcement that the farm worker strike in the Western Cape had been called off is welcomed”, said Johannes Möller, President of Agri SA.

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“Whilst we acknowledge that farm workers’ voice should be heard, we cannot condone their advisors and representatives’ actions which led vulnerable people into an unprotected and violent strike. Continuous misrepresentations on what was achievable within the legal framework and a view to economic sustainability, were also grossly disregarded by people who’s credibility were accepted by especially the large number of seasonable and unemployed people”, said Möller.

Whilst Agri SA was targeted by self proclaimed representatives of the striking communities as the entity which should solve the dispute, they ignored the fact that the Agri Sector Unity Forum (ASUF) of which Agri SA is a member, being representative of all the major national agricultural organisations, have a shared view with regard to the rule of law, constructive participation with the review of the sectoral determination, encouraging farmers to negotiate at farm level with their workers on higher than minimum wages but not having a mandate to do so on a collective basis, as demanded by labour.

The call by some leaders to boycott South African fruit exports can only be described as a short sighted sabotage effort against this country, its industries and its workers. The persons who propagated this action, should be held accountable by those who could be negatively affected in this regard. It is also presumptuous of the same people to pre-empt the to be announced new minimum wage, which has yet to be considered by the Employment Condition Commission and eventually by the Minister of Labour.

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“I want to remind those who generalises with abusive remarks against commercial farmers that those farmers are as law abiding and caring employers as any other employer in the South African economy. They succeed in feeding the nation and compete successfully in overseas markets. Ironically, these so-called “bad farmers” are in high demand in the rest of Africa. They remain, nevertheless, patriotic South Africans serving the best interests of the country and its people”, said Möller.

Agri SA also appreciates the efforts by the police to limit violent and criminal activities under difficult circumstances.

“Agri SA and its ASUF-partners will continue to engage with government and other role players on the many challenges facing by agriculture, acknowledging its vital role in rural areas, its contribution with regards to food security and to provide quality job opportunities for those who earn their livelihoods in this sector. The framework for such engagements will be the National Development Plan, as approved by the ruling party to serve as guidance for the general legislative framework of the country”, said Möller.