n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - The farm strike paradox : Southern Africa - issue on focus

Volume 2013, Issue 03
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Farm workers in South Africa's Western Cape Province are demanding a wage increase from approximately US$ 8 to US$ 17 a day. The country's commercial farmers who are their employers call the wage demands both unrealistic and unattainable. To pay such wages would require farms to operate at a loss and become unsustainable. The strikes by farm labourers throughout the Western Cape are a part of a growing national phenomenon of worker unrest. The labour strife is rooted in South Africa's wealth disparity between rich and poor, continuing widespread poverty, resulting from poor public service delivery and unrealised expectations of the country's impoverished majority, bred from the relatively new democracy's failure to address the deep inequality that exists. The farm labour strikes were called off in January 2013 and have largely subsided. The South African Government subsequently raised the minimum wage to approximately US$ 12. However, labourer's demands remain unresolved and potential violence and conflict could emerge nationwide.

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