Talks Crucial for Restoring Peace in De Doorns
“The current protest action in De Doorns is harming our economy and preventing job creation in the Western Cape agricultural sector. The unrest can only be solved through negotiations, and therefore the current talks between labour and employers, chaired by the CCMA, is of great importance. De Doorns is producing table grapes predominantly for the export market. The table grape industry supports 8000 fulltime and 8000 seasonal job opportunities in the Hex River Valley. If we can increase our agricultural exports with 5%, we will add an additional R432 million to the Provincial economy. We will create 9 505 new jobs on farms, and also 13 446 jobs in value adding activities. The additional income is also distributed towards rural communities: Our research found that disposable household income for urban families will increase with 0.24%, whereas rural families will see an increase in disposable income of 0.83%. The income will also promote redistribution of wealth: White and Asian households will benefit with an increase of 0.43% in disposable income. Coloured and black family will be 1.54% richer.
Because agriculture is of such importance to the Western Cape economy and its people, the events taking place in De Doorns is of great concern. Therefore the Western Cape Government deemed it necessary to send three Cabinet Ministers to De Doorns Yesterday: Myself; Ivan Meyer, Minister of Sport and Culture; and Dan Plato, Minster of Community Safety. As a team, were able to create an environment conducive for dialogue.
I was able to get the employer and worker representatives to sit around a table and engage one another in a calm manner, even though the ANC counsellors did not approve of my presence. I made the suggestion that the CCMA take over the chairmanship of the meeting. This arrangement was approved by all the parties involved, and they are continuing today in order to work towards a solution. People should understand that if this is a wage dispute, the National Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, is the responsible Minister, and should be approached to partake in the discussions. It is also imperative that all role players in the past few days’ events should understand that illegal actions will have legal consequences. South Africa has labour legislation, and the processes and platforms for disputes are clearly described. There is no need to promote issues in an illegal manner.
As Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, I want to see calm and order restored as fast as possible in the Hex river Valley. I want to see workers returning to work, and I want to see that the table grape industry prospers in order to create more jobs in the Western Cape”.