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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  COSATU Press Statements

Agri SA takes us to our common ruin

3 December 2012

The negotiations with Agri SA have led to a breakdown, because Agri SA is completely opposed to putting any monetary offer on the table. This is in spite of Agri SA and the entire country agreeing that the R69 per day is too low and that the wages must be raised. This attitude in Agri SA is because of the old right-wing clique in Agri South Africa, who still rules Agri SA, a farmerís organisation that has its roots in the old SA and still wants to perpetuate the old boere ideas.

There are however many good farmers who are unhappy about the stance taken by Agri SA and want to find pragmatic solutions. This group of farmers in some of the Agricultural associations have started negotiations outside of Agri SA, with COSATU These negotiations will look at a future industrial relations framework, Industrial support from Government, and the question of an adjustment to the R69 minimum salaries.

The national leadership from Agri SA has come down to Western Cape to try and stop these negotiations. These negotiations and the strategic direction forward will have a fundamental effect on the future of Agri SA, as it will most likely lead to a split. The right wingers who donít want to negotiate are seen as the old guard, who differ with the more practical verligdes, who want to build a new agricultural sector that ends the apartheid style practices. The verligdes want to find solutions that avoid the strike on Tuesday 4 December 2012.

This strike and the way it is handled are going to reshape the future of Industrial relations on the farms, but it has the potential to bring a lasting solution and constructive engagement to the farming sectors. Should the strike continue it could set back Industrial relations decades, and increase the general hostility on the farms.

The strike will be an unfortunate event, but clearly, one the Agri SA will risk. We will now start speaking to our international contacts to advise them about the attitude of the farmers. This will mean that the farmers may be able to harvest their fruit, but no International country will buy it, and it will stand in there storerooms. Given that the areas listed will soon be seen as pariahs in the international eyes, we will also ensure that the stevedores at the harbour do not handle the fruit from these regions.

We will make this call for condemnation of the farmersí attitude public and this will get banks who lend the farmers money to see them as risky investments.

The route that the farmers and Agri SA has chosen, by disregarding workers , will lead to the common ruin of us all and the collapse of the Industries around Agriculture .

For questions please call COSATU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, at 082 7733194