Western Cape 2012 Farm Workers' Strike

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The Western Cape 2012 Farm Workers' Strike began on a farm near De Doorns on 27 August when a group of largely female workers walked off the job.[1] It then spread to other areas.[2] It has been described as 'organic' and organised by workers without mediation by political parties, trade unions or NGOs.[3] The strike was finally called off on 4 December 2012.[4]

According to the Mail & Guardian "the fact that the protests spread so fast after decades of ­quiescence shocked the country."[5] It has been suggested that the strike was, in part, inspired by the Marikana miners' strike which took place earlier in the year.[6]

Three protesters were killed during the strike amidst widespread claims of police brutality.[7]

Background[edit]

In August 2011 Human Rights Watch issued a report detailing extensive abuses on farms in the Western Cape.[8] It has also been suggested that government land reform has failed and the rural economy has been corporatised in recent years to the detriment of the rural poor.[9]

Forms of Protest[edit]

The strike included road blockades and burning vineyards.[10] The police reported that shops were also looted.[11]

Violence[edit]

A 28-year old man, Michael Daniels, was shot dead by the police on 14 November 2012.[12] A 40-year old man, Bongile Ndleni, was shot dead, allegedly by a private security firm, on 17 November 2012.[13] Amongst other reports of police violence it has been reported that a ten-year old girl was shot in the face with a rubber bullet by the police.[14]

Role of COSATU[edit]

On 14 November COSATU announced that the strike was suspended but workers continued with their strike.[15][16] The next day, most farmworkers remained on strike. This led to a split between the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), which is affiliated with COSATU, and the leadership of COSATU in the Western Cape with the former opting to support the farmworkers in defying COSATU's agreement with government.[17][18] According to the Daily Maverick, Cosatu did not have a democratic mandate to call off the strike on 4 December 2010.[19]

Resumption of the Strike in 2013[edit]

The strike was resumed in January 2013. It was, again, accompanied by considerable police violence.[20] It was argued that Nosey Pieterse, the president of the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry and general secretary of Bawusa, the Bawsi Agricultural Workers Union of South Africa, emerged as the primary leader in the strike in January 2013.[21] However others have argued that the strike was largely self organised and that leaders were largely self proclaimed.[22] Letsekang Tokhwane, 25, was shot dead by the police on 14 January 2013.[23] The strike was finally called off on 22 January 2013.[24] A number of workers were fired as a result of their participation in the strike.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fire in the Vineyards: The Making of a Farm Worker Uprising in the Hex River Valley, by Chris Webb, Amandla, 8 November 2012
  2. ^ Leaderless farm strike is 'organic', Sean Christie, Mail & Guardian, 16 November
  3. ^ Leaderless farm strike is 'organic', Sean Christie, Mail & Guardian, 16 November
  4. ^ Western Cape winelands: The strike's over, nothing's solved, Benjamin Fogel, The Daily Maverick, 5 December 2012
  5. ^ Farm workers deserve better, Mail & Guardian, Editorial, 16 November 2012
  6. ^ Notes from a Farmworkers Strike, by Ben Fogel, Mahala, 7 December 2012
  7. ^ Farmworkers' strike may be over – but everyone's a loser, Rebecca Davis, 23 January 2012
  8. ^ Ripe with Abuse Human Rights Conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Industries, Human Rights Watch, 2011
  9. ^ Neoliberal land & agricultural policies at heart of farm strikes by Mazibuko K. Jara, Amandla Magazine, 2013
  10. ^ Western Cape protests: calmer day, thicker plot, Rebecca Davis, The Daily Maverick, 16 November 2012
  11. ^ Farmers should decide workers' fate – Agri SA, The Citizen, 16 November 2012
  12. ^ Western Cape protests: calmer day, thicker plot, Rebecca Davis, The Daily Maverick, 16 November 2012
  13. ^ Western Cape protests: Bloody hands in private security firms?, Rebecca Davis, Daily Maverick, 19 November 2012
  14. ^ De Doorns: Police action breeds hostility, Benjamin Fogel, The Mail & Guardian, 18 January 2013
  15. ^ The Farm Workers' Strike: It's Far From Over, by Anna Majavu, SACSIS, 15 November 2012
  16. ^ Cape winelands: Why the farmworkers defied Cosatu, Jared Sacks, Daily Maverick 16 November
  17. ^ Twenty Six held over De Doorns strike, Cape Argus 16 November
  18. ^ Cape winelands: Why the farmworkers defied Cosatu, Jared Sacks, Daily Maverick 16 November
  19. ^ Western Cape winelands: The strike's over, nothing's solved, Benjamin Fogel, The Daily Maverick, 5 December 2012
  20. ^ De Doorns: A community enveloped by fear and anger, Benjamin Fogel, The Daily Maverick, 14 January 2013
  21. ^ In the eye of the winelands storm: Nosey Pieterse by Rebecca Davis, The Daily Maverick, 14 January 2013
  22. ^ Farm workers union Csaawu should be saved, Daneel Knoetze, GroundUp, 17 November 2014
  23. ^ De Doorns: Strike continues, in spite of Cosatu, Rebecca Davis, Daily Maverick, 17 January
  24. ^ Farmworkers' strike may be over – but everyone's a loser, Rebecca Davis, 23 January 2013
  25. ^ Tensions remain following dismissals of workers in De Doorns, Ben Fogel, GroundUp, 30 January 2013