"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.
"Whilst we acknowledge that farm workers' voices 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 whose credibility was accepted, especially by the large number of seasonal and unemployed people."
Whilst Agri SA was targeted by self-proclaimed representatives of the striking communities as the entity that 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, has 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.
A short-sighted sabotage effort
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 people 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.
"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 the 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," Möller concluded.
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