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South Africa’s Vineyard Protest Talks Unresolved After Two Days

The second day of talks to resolve unrest in South Africa’s biggest table grape-growing region ended without resolution.

Employees have been protesting for better wages and living conditions this week, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation’s biggest labor federation, said in an e-mailed statement on Nov. 6. Talks have been held between Agri Wes-Cape, the Western Cape province’s agricultural trade association, unions representing the workers, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and Tina Joemat-Petterson, the national minister of agriculture, in De Doorns, 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Cape Town.

The region affected by the unrest has 4,800 hectares (11,861 acres) of vineyards. South Africa is the continent’s biggest grower of the fruit.

“No agreement or settlement was reached,” Lookington Ndongeni, provincial secretary for the Food and Allied Workers Union, an affiliate of COSTU, said by mobile phone in Cape Town today. “Some farmers are willing to give the workers an extra 25 rand ($2.86) a day on top of what they are earning, while others are not.”

“Tomorrow a meeting will be held with the leadership of the unions and the national minister of agriculture,” Ndongeni said.

Agri Wes-Cape asked farm workers to return to work on Monday and hold direct talks with their employers, Porchia Adams, a spokeswoman for the trade association, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Earlier this year, labor unrest rocked the mining and manufacturing industries in South Africa, where a quarter of the workforce is unemployed and almost a third of the population of 51.8 million receives welfare grants.

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