The Paardeberg, quality hub for the Swartland, the most fashionable appellation in the SA winelands, is in lockdown this morning. All points of ingress are now fenced and controlled by a private security company, due to “the threat of irresponsible strike action in our area” according to one of my neighbours. This is a Swartland Revolution by the workers, rather than the one the bosses and running dog capitalists held in Riebeek-Kasteel earlier in the month.
Tomorrow is National Drinking Day so the trouble is unlikely start on Saturday but December 4 looks likely after Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced the minimum wage for farm labour cannot be increased until March next year, citing bureaucratic reasons.
Farmers in Tulbagh, hardly the richest appellation in the Winelands, paid R1.9 million to a security company earlier this month to protect life and property against striking farm workers. A cost divided between farmers who can ill-afford an extra input cost.
Lucky the Swartland has a “++” crop expectation for this vintage according to SAWIS, one of the highest in the country (Stellenbosch gets a “-”), so bosses can look forward to some windfall cash to pay for the new security measures, plus all those WIETA accreditation charges they won’t be paying, going forward. Poor farm workers will lose out, as usual, as the national tragedy continues.