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South African Grape-Farm Workers Suspend Strike Pending Review

South African farmworkers in the grape growing region of Western Cape Province suspended a week old strike to allow the government to review minimum wages after protests that saw vineyards and houses set alight.

“An agreement between government and labor suspends the strike for two weeks and workers will return to work tomorrow,” the Congress of South African Trade Unions said today in an e- mailed statement. “Should the new minimum not be acceptable, then workers will continue their strike on Dec. 4.”

The farmworkers, mostly not unionized, have been protesting since Nov. 6 in demand of a daily wage of 150 rand ($17), while farmers offered 80 rand. They will earn a minimum 80 rand in the next two weeks as the review is finished and disciplinary action won’t be taken against those who went on strike, Cosatu said.

AgriSA, the country’s main farmers’ organization, plans to hold a press conference on the labor action today.

Labor unrest has rocked mining and manufacturing in South Africa, where a quarter of workers are unemployed and almost a third of the 51.8 million population depends on welfare.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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