South Africa vineyard talks stall as tensions rise - FreshFruitPortal.com

South Africa vineyard talks stall as tensions rise

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South Africa vineyard talks stall as tensions rise

Negotiations to end the Western Cape vineyard strike in South Africa reached deadlock on Friday in an increasingly strained environment.

Formal talks continued through the afternoon to resolve a confusing labor situation that has led to the torching of several vineyards around De Doorns and a call by Agri Wes-Cape for a greater police presence to maintain order.

Agri Wes-Cape communications manager Porchia Adams said although rules of engagement had been agreed upon by all parties, talks took a serious turn for the worst.

"After the first break that they had, the union reps came back and they threatened our people individually. Their safety and their lives were threatened. So this is a complicated turn that was taken," Adams said.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), one of the labor representatives, could not be reached for comment. On the organization's website, however, a call has been made to stop politicizing the situation. Accusations of political motives have run rampant during the strikes as speculation circulates about the true cause of the week's events.

Officially, the strike has been attributed to wage issues. Cosatu supports a farm worker pay raise doubling to ZAR150 (US$17.22) a day, rejecting the proposed rate of ZAR80 (US$9.18).

Agri Wes-Cape has asked to bypass Cosatu in negotiations and speak with farm workers directly. They hope to meet with workers on Monday and come to a resolution that will bring them back to normal operations.

Related stories: South African grape vineyards torched during protests

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