South Africa: SACTWU wage concerns settled

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Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has called off its national level strike, following the signing of a last minute deal, with the employers’ association.

SACTWU had demanded that clothing industry workers in urban areas should get a 7% total wage increase, and in rural areas, an increase of 10.1%. These wage increases will be backdated to September 1, 2013. Employers that one-sidedly implemented wage increases and third-party employer associations that have not signed the agreement would need to implement a further 1% wage increase.

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SACTWU general secretary Andre Kriel said that this agreement would bring stability to the sector for the foreseeable future. The employer organizations had acceded to all of the union’s demands, he added. Minimum wages in South Africa’s clothing sector start at US$ 42 a week.

Last month, SACTWU had prepared to ballot its members for a strike and more than 86% of 40,000 workers voted in favor of the strike. The South African textile industry directly employs 230,000 and another 200,000 in dependent industries such as transport and packaging. The Industrial Development Corporation has calculated that for every worker in the textile industry 2.5 jobs are generated in related industries.

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The South African textile, clothing, leather and footwear industry, with an annual turnover of Rand 35 billion (US$ 3.39 billion), and exports of Rand 750.87 million (US$ 73 million),  has been witnessing shrinking manufacturing from 2005. Total production of the sector from 2005 to 2012 has come down by 19.5%. Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear make up 4.9% of the total manufacturing output.

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