CSAAWU members are on strike at the Oakvalley Estate farm since the 6th May 2019. Workers are pursuing three demands:
1. Workers are demanding that the employer increase the minimum wage from the current R160 a day to R250 a day
2. Workers demand an end to the use of labour brokers
3. Workers are demanding an end to apartheid and that the single-sex hostels which are reserved for Black/African workers be demolished and that they are replaced with the family units.
This strike has exposed the brutal attacks on workers right to strike that is enshrined in the new amendments to the labour laws. The strike demonstrates equally that apartheid and racism is still alive 25 years after it was declared dead on the 27 April 1994.
The Oakvalley bosses have employers have employed the most intransigent, arrogant and dismissive attitude possible. Management has not moved an inch on any of the issues that led to the strike.
1) On the first demand, they insist that they have already increased the minimum wage in line with the NEDLAC agreement on the National Minimum Wage and are not willing to entertain the demand employer is not moving an inch. The bosses are saying they increased the wages in January 2019. However, this was only to comply with the National Minimum Wage recently to R160 a day or R18 an hour! SAFTU has already rejected slavery National Minimum Wage as only serving to entrench the colonial and apartheid wage structure and the income inequalities that have made our country the most unequal society on earth.
2) They are refusing to do away with the use of the labour brokers and are not willing to entertain a discussion on how seasonal work could be managed to guarantee more job security.
3) They have flatly refused to scrap apartheid in the workplace. Whites enjoy the best accommodation and live with their families; coloured workers have second class houses and stay with their families. Black African workers stay in single-sex hostels sleeping on iron beds in “filthy, flea-ridden barracks” as Hugh Masekela used to sing.
They won’t budge! In line with the draconian rules contained in the amendments to the LRA that says the CCMA must impose picket rules in the parties cannot find one another on picket rules. The CCMA has imposed a rule that the workers can picket, but they must be about 1.2 km away from the company gate. This renders the strike utter ineffective.
The bosses have employed scab labour taking full advantage of the fact that locally 10 million unemployed workers are roaming the streets. In addition, there are other workers more desperate for any kind of a job from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and other neighbouring countries. The combination of the picket rules imposed by the CCMA and scabs means the strike does not affect them whatsoever! The bosses have grown even more arrogant!
SAFTU appreciates the overwhelming support the workers have received from the United Front representing the working class communities in Grabouw. SAFTU is grateful that many working class-based political parties such as the SRWP and Land Party have provided to the workers.
SAFTU calls for the intensification of the strike and solidarity action to put management under pressure. In this regard, we call for the boycott of all the products of Oakvaley Estate.
These products are flowers used by Woolworths, Shoprite Checkers and Spar. We call on the management of these companies to make it clear to Oakvalley that apartheid has been declared by the United Nations an evil against humanity. They must refuse to get flowers and other products from Oakvalley Estate out of their shop shelves until they have been given a guarantee that first the apartheid practices have been ended that the company resolves the dispute with the union CSAAWU. We also call on all workers employed by these companies to refuse to touch any product of Oakvalley Estate farm.
We call on all South Africans to boycott all the wines produced at Oakvalley Estate. A big chunk of these wines gets exported to various parts of Europe and the world. We call on all the unions in Europe and other countries to boycott all wines produced by Oakvalley. We shall write to all of the unions in these countries to inform that apartheid they played such an essential role to the ending is still allowed to persist in the countryside of South Africa.
We call on all South Africans not to allow apartheid to continue in Oakvalley and other farms in South Africa. They must do this by refusing to buy the boerewors with the label Oakvalley Estate.
We call on all political parties and the unions within and outside SAFTU to continue providing the support to the Oakvalley workers. We request for more marches and demonstrations in support of the workers. We call on rights bodies such as the Gift of the Givers to provide humanitarian aid to the striking farmworkers.