July 29, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe – Cape Argus
A GROUP of farmworkers who slept outside Parliament last night as a visible protest against their living conditions and wages are expecting President Jacob Zuma to address them today.
The workers, from across the province, were led by farm worker trade union Sikhula Sonke and supported by various organisation, including Cosatu and the Anti-Eviction Campaign.Wendy Pekeur, Sikhula Sonke’s general secretary, said about 100 workers were set for gather for the night protest and the number would swell to about 300 today.
The farmworkers are due to hold a prayer session this morning before being addressed by Zuma at noon.
Hennie Cleophas, 42, said that he had worked for a flower farm in Stellenbosch for 16 years. However, he said he expected to be retrenched by the end of the year and appealed for the president’s intervention in order for him and others on the farm to keep their jobs.
“We live in a pigsty because the owner says he does not have houses for us. We clean toilets with (our) bare hands We have no electricity and drink water from the ground,” he said.
Sarah Titus, 59, said she, her husband and children had been left homeless after being evicted from a farm without notice in 2007.
Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich said the government should be held accountable for the suffering of farmworkers.
Unhappy farmworkers protest outside Parliament
July 29, 2009 Edition 2
Staff Writer – Cape Times
STELLENBOSCH farmworkers have embarked on a week-long campaign to draw attention to the “inhumane” treatment they receive from farm owners and managers.
About 100 workers last night gathered at Parliament to stage a vigil, prepared to spend the night at the gates.
The workers sang struggle songs, told stories of what they had experienced, and lit candles in solidarity with workers suffering “inhumane forced evictions, appalling housing and retrenchment”.
This morning the workers were due to gather at St George’s Cathedral.
Union spokeswoman Wendy Pekeur said President Jacob Zuma would then address the workers at Parliament, where a memorandum of grievances would be delivered.
The memorandum demanded that the government stop evictions and the extreme hardships of the farmworkers.
According to the union, members on wine farms in Stellenbosch were victimised and forced to leave the farm.
The union urged wine consumers to ensure the wine bought from farms was ethically produced.
The effort was organised by farmworkers’ trade union Sikhula Sonke. During the Stellenbosch Wine Festival this weekend, the workers would “highlight grave issues farmworkers were confronted with on these farms”. – Staff Writer