A major national strike of over 50 000 clothing workers has been averted at the last minute.
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has settled its national wage dispute in the clothing industry, after a majority of employer associations with whom we negotiate have conceded to all of the union’s final demands.
The agreement was ratified and signed at a Special Council meeting of the clothing industry bargaining council. Five out of the six employer associations endorsed the agreement.
In terms of the clothing bargaining council’s constitutional provisions, the wage agreement is legitimately ratified if a simple majority of employer representatives and a similar simple majority of trade union representatives vote in favour of adoption of the agreement.
The required majority vote was achieved. The settlement gives labour cost certainty which will help to promote industrial stability in the industry.
The union called for this Special Council meeting held, with only two items on the agenda: (a) settlement of the national wage dispute or (b) union notice of national strike action should there be no settlement.
The settlement is achieved on the back of the union having strike-balloted over 40 000 clothing workers, 86% of whom who voted in favour of industrial action.
In terms of the settlement, the following will apply:
1. Metro (i.e. urban) area clothing workers will receive a 7% total labour cost increase.
2. Non-metro area clothing workers will receive a 10.1% wage increase.
3. All wage increases will be backdated to 1st September 2013.
4. Those Clothing employers who have unilaterally implemented wage increases without our consent and those party employer associations who have not signed the agreement will be required to implement a further 1% wage increase, in addition to that set out in 1 and 2 above. This is to discourage unilateralism, which in our view is detrimental to orderly collective bargaining.
5. The parties will convene an Industry Summit by no later than the first quarter of next year, to examine the state of the industry and to discuss what further interventions would be required to strengthen its future sustainability.