The KwaZulu-Natal provincial office of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has criticized owners of clothing enterprises for threatening to layoff over 14,000 workers.
COSATU Provincial Secretary Zet Luzipo said employers could not threaten to layoff workers before wage negotiations have begun, The New Age reported.
Jobs of more than 14,000 workers in KwaZulu-Natal clothing sector have been put on stake and they could be laid off by the end of the week, as 450 garment manufacturing enterprises were closed by the National Bargaining Council (NBC) for not adhering to minimum wage laws.
Apparel manufacturers argue that imports of garments from Asian countries in vast quantities has made it difficult for domestic units to survive and pay the prescribed minimum wages.
Luzipo said the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) and representatives of the garment industry are likely to start wage negotiations in March this year and criticized the owners of apparel enterprises for pre-empting the outcome of the negotiations.
He added that COSATU demands not just a living wage for workers in the clothing industry, but also better working conditions.
He said the employers and the Government should implement a comprehensive strategy to combat the import of cheap clothing into the country.