The Leeuwenkuil farm in Agter-Paarl, Cape Town – one of largest farms in the Western Cape, which produces wine and olives, is one instance of the ongoing intimidation and attacks against workers by bosses on the farms. Here, the farmer, Willie Dreyer, is denying workers’ rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech. The farmer has intimidated workers by dismissing shop stewards and laying false charges of attempted murder against two farm workers, Amos White and Patrick Philander, and charges of assault against CSAAWU’s Assistant General Secretary, Karel Swart. The union has been denied access to the farm on weekends and after hours in the week on a number of occasions. We maintain that workers must be able to meet with any organization or person they choose to in their own time. It should not be the prerogative of the farmer to control workers’ own time and who they can and cannot meet.
Workers and their families are standing behind their dismissed leaders. They are sharing what they have with each other – their pain and their strength.
Workers demand that they are treated as human beings, not slaves; that they are respected; that they have enough to live a decent life. Workers’ demands are modest and humble. They are not big, fancy demands, but they are big demands under a system that treats workers as tools for profit; they are big demands under a system that treats workers as the property of farmers; they are big demands under a system where workers everywhere are forced to suffer starvation wages; they are big demands under a system that takes workers’ blood and sweat for the gain of others.
Patrick Philander worked on the farm for 15 years. When he and other workers joined CSAAWU, Willie Dreyer instructed him to convince the workers to leave the union. Cde Patrick refused to do this. 8 months ago, cde Patrick and his fellow worker cde Amos, got onto the back of the farmer’s truck as they do often on a Sunday to get transport to town. But this time, they were told to ‘fuck off’ and verbal argument ensued with them and the foreman. On Tuesday, police were called in and charges of attempted murder were laid against the 2 workers. Disciplinary hearings were also held and both workers were dismissed. Since the false charges were laid against him and the dismissal, cde Patrick’s life has been hell. He has 4 four children and a wife. His family was evicted from their house on the farm. Everyday he is forced to worry about where he will get money for food, let alone money for other necessities. Like all workers, Patrick wants to be able to have a future and wants a future for his children.
1. The right to organise!
2. The right to speak out against abuses!
3. End intimidation and threats against worker leaders!
4. Drop all false charges!
5. Reinstate dismissed workers!
6. A living wage for all!
7. End the economic boycott against farm workers!
CSAAWU will fight against ongoing intimidation and threats against workers. We call on organisations to stand with us against this fight. We call for solidarity outside court hearings:
· Cdes Amos White and Patrick Philander’s hearing will be held at Magistrate D Court, Paarl, on 23rd November.
· Cde Karel Swart’s hearing will be held at the Magistrate Court, Cape Town, on 25th January 2013.
· Send letters of protest to Leeuwenkuil farm. Att: Mr Andre Bloem, Faximile: +27 (0) 21 872 4928; Email: email@example.com. Demand that false charges are dropped, that unfairly dismissed workers are reinstated, that the union is unbanned!
· CSAAWU has called on WIETA (Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association) to facilitate engagement between the two parties. Call on WIETA to refuse accreditation for the farm if abuse of workers continues: Att: Linda Lipparoni, Chief Executive Officer; Landline: +27 (0)21 880 0580; Faximile: +27 (0) 21 880 0576; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Leeuwenkuil supplies wine to the Norwegian alcohol chain, Vinmonopolet. We call on Trade Unions in Norway to send letter of protest to the farm and if the abuse of workers continues, we call for blacking action by workers – refuse to handle products from the farm in solidarity with South African farm workers!
· Use your consumer power to boycott Leeuewnkuil wine.
FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:
Trevor Christians – CSAAWU General Secretary – 083 546 2911
Karl Swart – CSAAWU Deputy General Secretary – 076 662 6978