Oak Valley Farm to equality court
In May 2019, GroundUp reported that about 70 Oak Valley Estate workers, supported by various unions affiliated to the United Front, marched through the streets of Grabouw in a quest to have their wages increased to R250 per day; to have labour brokering come to an end, including an end to single-sex hostels.
The three-month strike at Oak Valley Farm carries on due to attempts by employers to negotiate in bad faith.
For many years, the farm has had coloured and white workers stay with their families on the farm. Black-African workers, however, were put in single-sex hostels, i.e. their families were not allowed to reside with them.
After a long series of fruitless negotiations with the farm, the union has referred the single-sex hostels to the equality court based on claims of violation against human dignity, discrimination and racism.
These claims will be adjudicated on 5 July 2019.
“We are seeking an order to declare the practice of singles sex hostels unlawful and that black worker’s be allowed to stay on the farm with their families,” comments Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (Csaawu).
The company’s most recent position is that they are prepared to keep 11 workers at the hostels, while the rest must vacate the premises.
The 11 will not be allowed to stay with their families.
The union’s position is as follows:
• Wages: 8% increase for grades 1 and 2 and 6.5% increase for grades 3,4,5 and 6
• Housing allowance: R300 per month for all workers to be paid with immediate effect
• An additional R150 must be paid within six months’ time. This is to equalise the payment among all workers.
• This offer must not be linked to the eviction of other workers from the hostels
The union is not in a position to negotiate anything around the hostels as this matter is sub judice.