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South Africa: Workers Face the Backlash from Farmers

category southern africa | workplace struggles | non-anarchist press author Monday May 06, 2013 18:43author by CSAAWU - Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union Report this post to the editors

Workers dismissed for taking part in the recent strike wave.

Over 60 CSAAWU worker leaders have been dismissed for taking part in the recent strike wave. Farmers are dismissing workers, increasing their rent, electricity and water. Farmers are preventing dismissed workers from finding alternate sources of income and threatening workers with evictions. Workers are being forced to take their children out of school and borrow money for food where they can. Workers are sitting with pain and suffering but do not regret standing up against years of abuse and exploitation. Viva the spirit of farm workers!

Women Workers on Noree Farm Face the Brunt of the Backlash from Farmers

On Noree farm, three women and two men weredismissed. All the women’s contracts were also unilaterally changed frompermanent to casual workers. Everywhere women are bearing the brunt of the onslaught against workers.They have to send their children to school with empty stomachs. Some say theyare worse off after the strike – they have been retrenched, casualised and theyare forced to pay more for rent and electricity on the farm. But despite this,workers continue to believe that it was right to strike – that they had tostand up.

Dismissed workers:

Ellen Jacobs
Kathleen Swartz
Maria Seybo
Michael Barnaard
Peter Botman

Products of Noree Farm:

Peaches,apricots and grapes. Fruit is sent to Ashton Canning and then exported and the grapes for wine to Rooiberg Winery.

Over 50 Farm Workers' Children Affected by Dismissals on Goudmyn Farm

Goudmyn Farm

On Goudmyn farm over 15 women farm workers have been dismissed. The union is taking up the case as an unfair dismissal. Over50 children’s lives are affected by these dismissals. They were told that there is no more work for them even though some have worked and lived on the farm for as long as 20 years. Workers say that every day is a struggle. Their children ask for food that they cannot give to them. This is painful for them. They cannot pay for the bus fare to school, which for some if 15 kilometres away.They cannot pay for transport to get to town or to the doctor. They borrow money here and there where they can but people they borrow from need to be repaid, which is causing social tensions in the community. Some workers feel that their lives are more difficult now than before the strike. However they believe that farm workers must be part of a union and that they had to go strike and to stand up together as farm workers.

Dismissed workers:

Annie Jenke
Gina Vorshe
Danielle Appels
Magdeline Stofberg
Paulina Demingo
Mariana Dornis
Johanna Magdelinalatha
Lene Latha
Annamarie Adams
Elzet Williams
Nadia Appels
Rijone Appels
Marlin Matel
Magrieta Jafta
Aneline Jacobs

Products from Goudmyn Farm:

Goudmyn Fruit: apricots, peaches, plums,puree, white and red grapes. 70-80% of the products are exported, mainly to Europe.

Dismissed Workers on Riverhouse Farm

Riverhouse Farm

Eleven workers living on Riverhouse farm outside Robertson were dismissed on the 11th of January 2013 for taking part in the strike. These workers, like many others, are struggling to survive everyday, to meet even their basic needs. Workers’ survival strategies are actively being blocked by the farmer, Dawid Steydler. Some try to find contract work on other farms but the farmer has warned other farmers not to employ them. Some cut reeds from the river and sell them to earn a small livelihood but here the farmer has again blocked them, telling them it is his private property. One worker has had to pull her child out of high school because she can no longer afford the hostel fees. Another worker worries because he has a 7 months pregnant wife. Workers speak of being buried under more and more debt. Some are able to borrow from friends and family. Some are able to get food from other workers on the farm. Workers try to share what little they have with each other. The farmer has threatened to evict them saying he will bring in new workers. Workers speak of their growing frustration and insecurity. Farmers continue with business as usual: “they go on with their lives but we have nothing”. There can be no ‘business as usual’ while workers continue to suffer.  

Dismissed workers:

Jacque Jafdha
Andries Ambros
Dawid Jooste
Salmin Swartz
Elroy Paulsen
Esmerelde Grootboom
Donavon Grootboom
Linda Afrika
Daniel Jonas
Nadin Bruintjies
Daniel Sambo
Products of Riverhouse Farm:

Apricots, lemons and oranges, many of whichare exported to Europe.

Women Workers Dismissed on Wonderfontein Farm

Wonderfontein Farm

On Wonderfontein farm six women farm workers have been dismissed. Their contracts were unilaterally changed from permanent to ‘piece-work’ where they get paid per vine stick collected. Workers refused to sign the contract and were dismissed as a result. It is only the women workers that have had their contracts changed. Workers say that it is very difficult now. Famers are telling other farmers in the area not to give them jobs, they cannot pay their debts and worry about their children’s futures.Their children will have to walk over five kilometers to school because they can no longer afford to pay for taxi fares. Workers who are not members ofCSAAWU get better houses than those who are. Workers who are trade union members do not have running water and sanitation facilities inside the house – they must use the bush outside.  

Four of the Dismissed Workers:

Magdaleen Cunningham
Sanna Abrahams
Geraldine Jordan
Shereen Viks
Products of Wonderfontein Farm:

Paul Rene Marais Wines
Wonderfontein Dessert Wines

Workers who have Worked and Lived for over 20 years on La Colline Farm Face Dismissals and Evictions

La Colline Farm

At La Colline farm nine workers have been dismissed. The farmer has increased rent, water and electricity deductions on the farm. The dismissed workers are forced to pay more than the other workers on the farm. The farmer is also blocking them from earning money on other farms. One of the dismissed workers tells of how she can no longer afford to use electricity. She must now use wood for cooking and heat. The smoke affects her and her children’s lungs. She says it is making her children sick. They do not have enough money to eat. They borrow money here and there from their fellow workers on the farm but each day is a struggle. Samuel Vindvogel and his wife have three children and has lived and worked on the farm for 27 years. The farmer is now threatening to evict his family and the other dismissed workers.The farmer tells them he will “demolish the house on top of you if you don’t get out.” Winston van Rensberg says that he has to go to fellow workers to borrow food everyday and has had to take his child out of secondary school.Workers continue to believe that it was right to strike but just want to be left in peace to find work and have the security of housing.

Dismissed workers:

Elizabeth Beukman
Sana Pieterse
Samuel Windvogel
Mrs Windvogel
Rachel Booysen
Damon Phillips
Winston van Rensberg
Fransiene Jambo
Gerrit Esau

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