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South Africa: Strike and resolution at cane-growing Harden Heights

A strike lasting from 27 June to 6 July at Harden Heights ended with an agreement granting a 6.68 percent wage increase as a “minimum sectoral wage,” a 7 percent increase in other financial benefits and for work on Saturdays. There is also an annual bonus, while FAWU established the basics for a workers’ forum.

The strike involved around 190 workers, with some 110 FAWU members with the remaining 80 being non-union workers, and it was the last resort as negotiations were difficult and had been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

A woman cane cutter in Harden Heights

A woman cane cutter in Harden Heights

Harden Heights is a cane growing operation in the Dalton area, north-west of Durban, in the KwaZulu Natal province. The total labour force is listed at 220 full-time employees and 150 on contract work. There is a substantial number of women workers, who represent close to 70 percent of the total labour force. As cane growing operation, main tasks are planting and weeding, spraying of agricultural inputs, cane cutting and cane delivering – including transportation and weighing.  Harden Heights deliver cane to the UCL mill, amount that translate into an annual sugar production of 20,000 tonnes.

An IUF Sugar/FAWU meeting with women workers at Harden Heights

An IUF Sugar/FAWU meeting with women workers at Harden Heights

Harden Heights in one FAWU initiative to organise cane farm workers in the KwaZulu Natal province, where the ongoing work of the IUF Global Sugar Program has focused on supporting activities with women workers. (With information from FAWU’s Alan Govindsamy.)

Background information on IUF Sugar work in Harden Heights

Permanent link to this article: http://www.iuf.org/sugarworkers/south-africa-strike-resolution-cane-growing-harden-heights/