The Transvaal Agricultural Union (Tau-SA) said that Labour unrest affecting farms in the Western Cape was a political problem rather than a wage dispute. TAU-SA president Louis Meintjies says they have evidence that people are bussed to the violence-stricken areas, where they go on a rampage. Meanwhile the Federation of Unions of SA has also expressed concern over the farm protests. Fedusa’s Dennis George said that Cosatu’s statements that Marikana has come to the Western Cape, as irresponsible. He added that this is after the minister of labour received a report from the employment conditions commission, which consists of organise labour, business and government, to make a sectorial wage determination for the agricultural sector. Before this commission can make this determination, they consult with all parties involved. Parties would then have an opportunity to have a say in wages and working conditions before the determination is made. Dennis said Fedusa believes that once you follow this legal process, then parties have to accept that particular process. He added that the commission would look at all the determining factors like what is the profitability of farms, and the conditions of farmworkers, before they make this determination on what the minimum wage would be for farmworkers. However he pointed out the people from outside the process, use this process, bussing people in from other places to hold demonstrations which resorts to violent demonstrations. He said this must be stopped immediately. Dennis added that as a trade union federation, they are committed to the four principals of the decent work agenda that includes collective bargaining, and decent work.
He continued that he does not want to generalise on the point the employers getting away with ‘economic murder’ when it comes to paying employees a decent wage, as the agricultural sector has many components to it. However, he said that the wanted to make the call to both sides to remain calm and to sort their problems out through negotiation. He also urged farmers not to just pay the minimum wage, arguing that many people get more than the minimum wage from employers, based on what they can afford. Dennis also commented that, “the issue of smashing and damaging of people’s property. That is something we must root out immediately because that is detracting from the real socio-economic issues of farmworkers.” He added the same thing happened in the mining sector which gave the companies a bad image internationally. He acknowledged that the one area where there is a serious problem is that farm owners don’t want the union to organise on their premises. He added the farm owners are putting pressure on new members of his union to resign from the union. He proposed to get together to create a code of conduct for organised labour. Dennis said that the previous minister tried to get farm owners to allow workers to organise, however these people seems to be hell bent to frustrate workers to be organised, and that is why Fedusa makes this call to all parties to act in good faith. He added that his organisation wants to lift as many people out of poverty, and to create structures where parties can engage with each other peacefully.