After a meeting with the clothing employer associations, Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) said the meeting has offered a ray of hope for settling the wage dispute between employees and clothing employers.
The meeting, held at the head office of the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry, in Cape Town, was extremely tense but ended constructively, SACTWU said in a media statement.
“The employers had earlier in the day tabled a further improved wage offer. Regrettably, it did not constitute sufficient movement for the union to recommend settlement to our members,” said Andre Kriel, general secretary, SACTWU.
“The parties then explored further, and ended with a package construct which we would be prepared to recommend as settlement to our members, provided the employers give a firm undertaking to settle along those terms,” he added.
SACTWU has now granted a one week period to clothing employers to seek a clear and final mandate from their constituency regarding the matter.
In the interim, however, SACTWU will continue with its practical preparations for a national strike ballot of 80,000 clothing workers, in case the employer negotiators fail to secure the recommended settlement mandate, the statement said.
The meeting between SACTWU representatives and clothing employers was held in a last-gasp attempt to secure a resolution of wage dispute.
SACTWU had submitted its 2014 wage demands very early this year, on March 20, and subsequently, the first round of wage negotiations were held on April 15-16. Since then, there have been three further normal rounds of negotiations of two days each, plus three separate conciliation meetings and numerous bilateral discussions.
However, these discussions have failed. The employers’ current final offer is a total labour cost increase of seven percent and the union is demanding a nine percent increase.
Wage increases are due on September 1, 2014.