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Farmworkers in South Africa take to the streets

The Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural & Allied Workers (CSAAWU) took to the streets of Robertson winery 7th of October. The winner of the Arthur Svensson prize 2017 demanded a living wage, decent working conditions, land for food production and proper housing for people illegally evicted from farms.

The strike was part of the general strike against the government in protest against mass dismissals, the collapse of public transport, casual employment, corruption, gender-based violence, the government’s threat to freeze the wages of public servants and the looming water crisis. The unions want to restore the dignity of its people by fighting for decent wages, a safe working environment and equality among all races. Four federations joined hands for the first time ever to raise a number of problems faced by both workers and the unemployed, as well as pressing social issues the government has not addressed.

The CSAAWU union want the houses lived in by farmworkers to be owned by them, a living wage and a total ban on labour brokers. During the strike, Deputy General Secretary stated that "the strike is just a start of a long journey of calling on all communities and workers to come out and support the cause of struggle against corruption, retrenchments and evictions".

The strikes will continue

The strike 7th of October was the beginning of a programme of rolling mass action. The next protest was on 12 October, when the four union federations marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and then on 2 December. In March 2021the unions will be joining with civil society, the taxi associations and the truck driver associations. Be they on the farms, or facing eviction in the townships, the unions want to unite the workers and the unemployed workers. The demands are "not some changes on the periphery, but that the economy be overhauled completely".


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