Police fire rubber bullets at South Africa farm strikers

DE DOORNS, South Africa Wed Jan 9, 2013 3:38am EST

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DE DOORNS, South Africa (Reuters) - Police fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of striking farm workers in South Africa's prime grape-growing region on Wednesday after a protest for higher wages turned violent.

Scores of police clad in riot gear fired rubber bullets at the strikers, who hurled stones from behind barricades of burning tires, according to a Reuters reporter on the scene in De Doorns, a farming town 100 km (60 miles) east of Cape Town.

The strike in the Western Cape, also home to South Africa's multi-billion dollar wine industry, restarted on Wednesday after being suspended in December, when warehouses were set on fire and at least two workers died in clashes with police.

The farm workers, many of them black seasonal hires employed to pick and pack fruit, want their minimum daily wage of 69 rand ($8) more than doubled to 150 rand.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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