The agricultural organization TLU SA has filed a complaint of hate speech with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) against the trade union Cosatu and is demanding damages following allegations that farm workers are being exploited and mistreated nationwide.
In its statement on Human Rights Day (which was celebrated on Tuesday), Cosatu said “nowhere are human rights more at risk than on farms across the country, where workers enjoy the fewest rights and are most exploited and abused”.
“Ruthless employers steal poverty wages, summarily kick tenants out of their homes, while sometimes assaulting, raping and even murdering their workers,” argued Cosatu.
The union also says workers on farms are often forced to work on public holidays and cannot enjoy their hard-earned rights.
“It is time that we give farm workers and their families their own homes and land and protect them from the ever-present threat of eviction.”
TLU SA says that after these “unfounded and prejudicial statements” against farmers, it has decided to draw a line and lodge the complaint with the HRC.
The organization also says it is unacceptable that any institution can make such a generalization, without any proper grounds for it. TLU SA demands that Cosatu unconditionally apologize to every farmer in the country and further pay damages of R5 million to victims of farm attacks.
“It’s as if Cosatu every now and then realizes it needs something to gain exposure and make political money and then decides to make inflammatory statements about something it knows its supporters will support, such as farmers being murderers, racists and rapists is – without thinking about the real consequences that this has for farmers,” says Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TLU SA.
Cosatu’s statements are a “horrible generalization” and try to win political points at the expense of the good relationship between farmers and their workers, says Van Zyl.
“TLU SA’s position has always been that if there is any violation of a law, the legal process must take its course. Where an offense takes place, a case number must be provided as evidence.”
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