Home Press Releases SACTWU NEC rejects Clothing Employers' attempt to Boycott Wage Negotiations
SACTWU NEC rejects Clothing Employers' attempt to Boycott Wage Negotiations PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 March 2011 15:54

A large group of clothing employers, organised under the auspices of  a national employers’ association called the Apparal Manufacturers of South Africa (AMSA) has threatened to boycott this year’s clothing wage negotiations,   the General Secretariat report tabled at last week’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) shows. The SACTWU NEC was held from 16-18 March 2011 in Cape Town.

This threat was made in a letter sent to SACTWU by AMSA, on 1 March 2011. In essence, these clothing bosses claim that they should not be required to present themselves for wage negotiations this year, due to the extent of wage non-compliance in the industry and the fact that the union has not accepted their proposal for a ‘new wage model’ for the industry.

The SACTWU NEC has cautioned AMSA that their threat is provocative and means a route of confrontation which will not be in the best interest of the local clothing industry. The union’s NEC has re-endorsed the compliance phase-in agreement for the industry concluded at bargaining council level in November last year, whereby non-compliant companies would be allowed to phase in to 70% of the minimum wage by 1 April 2011, to 90% by January next year and to 100% by April 2012, as an important signal that we wish to work together with employers who show goodwill to obey the law.

The union’s NEC has endorsed the sentiments expressed by the union’s secretariat, in a formal response letter submitted to AMSA Director Johann Baard by the SACTWU Deputy General Secretary, as follows:

“Dear Johann


We refer to your correspondence dated 1 March 2011 regarding the above matter, and advise as follows:

It’s not our intention to respond to all the points raised in your letter,  but place on record that we reserve the right to do so in future should we deem it necessary to do so. Nor are we interested in a debate via correspondence, as many of the matters raised in your letter are issues consistently addressed during the regular meetings of the Bargaining Council.

SACTWU, notes the reference to prejudice AMSA members face due to the extent of non-compliance in the industry, but in the same token point out  that the extent of non-compliance is not the doing of SACTWU. AMSA is well aware of the history on non-compliance, which dates prior to the time when the bargaining council took over jurisdiction of the non-metro areas.

We have also, on numerous previous occasions,  placed on record our position relating to this matter and in particular the active role some AMSA affiliate employer associations have played in instigating non-compliance which exacerbated the prejudice they now face.

In any event, we have ensured that a number of industry support measures, in fact all of it,  are only available to compliant companies. This is to mitigate the prejudice and we have previously indicated to you the value of that mitigation.

We are also particularly perturbed that it appears that senior representatives of your organisation have not fully embraced the recent phase in resolution of the bargaining council. We are aware of meetings which have been convened in KZN, where non-compliant companies have been urged not to comply with the phase in agreement.

In addition, your own recent public utterances in this regard show a complete undermining of  a jointly adopted bargaining council resolution, indicating that AMSA has no intention of contributing to the success of the compliance phase in resolution. We are perturbed at this very public undermining of a unanimous and joint decision of the parties Bargaining Council.

While we do not say that this is conclusively the case, it makes us wonder whether AMSA is at all interested to constructively assist to resolve the non-compliance difficulties in the industry or whether it wishes the problem to persist simply in order to strengthen your demand for wage cuts in the industry, under the guise of ‘... a new wage model...’

The point of interventions which AMSA refers to requires no further response from SACTWU. Our track record speaks for itself. Many of the interventions were implemented at the insistence of SACTWU with a luke warm support by AMSA. To now place on record how AMSA embraces the Government’s goals on job creation is somewhat misplaced when in fact you were aggressively promoting the closure of non-compliant companies not too long ago. It is the trade union which took the public flak.

Our position on your new wage model is known to AMSA as we have articulated this in the appropriate forums of the Council.

The stance you adopt on the forthcoming substantive negotiations for the period is one of clear confrontation.  This would not assist the industry and is not a route preferred by SACTWU.

In this regard, the provisions of the Constitution of the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry on annual collective bargaining  is unambiguous in spelling out the obligations of the parties.

The trade union will follow our obligations for the collective bargaining processes and procedures, as outlined in the Council constitution and the Labour Relations Act and we similarly hope that AMSA will do the same.

Yours sincerely”


The parties have now (on Tuesday this week) set a preliminary date for wage negotiations to commence, for 13 and 14 April 2011.

Issued by
Andre Kriel
General Secretary

If further comment is required, kindly contact Wayne van der Rheede, SACTWU Deputy General Secretary,   on 021 4474570 or 082 8007143