Following the strikes in the Sunday’s River Valley (SRV), ECARP has been engaging in a process of obtaining new information from farm workers to assess whether there is compliance with the workers’ demands. The following information is what ECARP has collected thus far:
– From a total of 19 workplaces investigated, only seven are complying with the R20 per hour rate that was demanded by farm workers in the SRV. Four of these workplaces are pack-houses and three are orchards.
– So far there are 12 workplaces where there is no complying with the farm workers’ demand of R20.00 per hour. Of these eight are orchards (six are citrus orchards and two are orchards producing Lucerne), while four are pack-houses.
Besides the demand for an hourly rate of R20.00 there are still various issues that the workers have isolated that require employers to make improvements on. Participants reported to ECARP that the following are some of these issues:
• Health and safety at work places
• Protective clothing provision
• Transport conditions
• Sexual harassment of women by supervisors and demanding other favours (i.e. bribes) to secure employment
• Physical abuse, insults and use of derogatory words, supervisors carrying guns
• Contract of employment
• Abolishment of piece rates
• Foremen not taking workers’ grievances to the employer
• Surveillance (workers carrying trackers, farmers using small helicopters to check on workers if they are working)
• Pay slips provision
Over and above these, there is an increase in the number of workers that are unfairly dismissed. ECARP will continue to support the workers on taking up these cases and ensuring positive change.