CLOTHING: Sactawu Declares Wage Dispute
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactawu) has declared a wage dispute with the Apparel Manufacturers Association of South Africa and will now ballot its members on possible strike action.
The dispute comes at a time when significant progress has been made in the battle to arrest the decline of the industry and restore its job-creating potential.
Mr Johann Baard, Executive Director of AMSA, said the dispute followed the union’s rejection of AMSA’s final offer but there was no dispute on the offer of a 6.5 per cent increase for workers in metropolitan areas or an effective discount of 20 per cent on starting wages.
The outstanding problems are about wages in the non-metro areas and a new wage model.
AMSA’s main concern is that the existing national agreement on wages is not being enforced. While its members are paying their workers the full benefits agreed in national wage negotiations, they have to compete with non-compliant factories paying lower wages in contravention of the National Bargaining Council agreement.
This has put the union in a difficult position as it has members in both the compliant and non-compliant sectors. Any action against non-compliant factories could result in closures and the loss of jobs for union members.
At the same time employers who pay full wages could lose orders to the “illegal” factories and be forced into retrenchments.
Mr Baard said that only a new wage model and rigorous enforcement of the national agreement would ensure a level playing field and a sound basis for the industry.
The two other problems faced by the clothing industry are illegal imports and the 22 per cent duty on imported textiles. About 80 per cent of fabric is imported because it is not manufactured in South Africa. Fabric costs amount to between 35 and 60 per cent of the cost of producing a garment.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry was understanding and they were already working together to curb illegal clothing imports while there was hope for progress on the tax issue.
AMSA believed that reduced import duties, the curbing of illegal clothing imports and a level playing field for both employers and workers would put the industry on the road to recovery and see jobs in the formal apparel industry grow from the present 57 000 to 200 000 in five years.
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