Media: Farm workers protest over poor living conditions and evictions

27 07 2009

July 27, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe – Argus

FARM workers have vowed to spend two nights outside Parliament during a week of “revolutionary action”.

Today the workers, from Breede River, Witzenburg, Overberg, Oostenberg and Boland, plan to start their protest by spending the night on a wine farm in Stellenbosch, to highlight the plight of workers there.
They will then gather at Parliament at 3pm tomorrow, and say they will camp there for two days.

They are expecting to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma at noon on Wednesday.

The protest has been organised by trade union Sikhula Sonke, which claims a membership of more than 3 500 from 120 farms across the Western Cape.

“We will then proceed to Stellenbosch on Thursday morning for the start of the Stellenbosch wine festival to expose the farms where there are bad practices,” said Sikhula Sonke general secretary Wendy Pekeur.

The union said it was being supported by other workers’ unions, NGOs and religious leaders.

The workers are calling for decent housing, proper sanitation, access to clean water, electricity and “an end to victimisation, humiliation and inhumane evictions from farms”.

“We are frustrated. People are suffering; we can compare it to the days slavery,” said Pekeur.

She said the workers had been driven to take action because the government and other political parties continued to ignore their plight.

During the last elections political parties had failed to address their grievances in their manifestoes.

Pekeur called for a moratorium on “inhumane forced evictions and retrenchments”.

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