Press Release : Immediate
The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) has reached a 9% to 14.24% labour cost increase settlement with clothing industry employers. The deal is worth about R190 million.
The main features of the agreement is that it provides for a wage increase which narrows the rural and urban wage gap, for the first time introduces the concept of productivity-linked wages, intrroduces a compulsory trade union agency fee for non-union members, reduces the qualifying training period for most workers, introduces an Industry Protection Fund nationally, for the first time sets an industry-wide HIV/Aids Policy, builds protections for contract employees, strengthen's the employment rights of workers who have completed learnerships, and encourages ICT access for shop stewards. The details are as follows:
The agreement was reached under the auspices of the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry of South Africa and covers about 80 000 clothing workers but (with a depency ratio of at least 1:6) impacts on the lives of close to half a million of the poorest South Africans.
The wage component settlement reached ranges between 9% for metro areas to 14,24% for non-metro areas, as follows:
Metro areas (Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and other main cities): a 9% total labour cost increase, of which 0.5% is set aside specifically to encourage productivity enhancement arrangements at plant level. The productivity incentive was part of the trade union's wage demands for this year and is intended to improve the industry's global competitiveness. This is a very important new innovation in the manner in which wage levels are constructed in the clothing industry.
Cape Country areas (Worcester to George): a 10.5% total labour cost increase, of which 0.5% is set aside specifically to encourage productivity enhancement arrangements at plant level.
Non metro A Areas (Magisterial Districts of Camperdown, uMzinto, Paarl, Stellenbosch & Uitenhage): an 11.61% total labour cost increase for the general worker job category and 10.15% for all other job categories.
Non metro B areas (all non-metro areas other than those above, including Botshabelo, Ladysmith, Isithebe, QwaQwa and Newcastle): a 14.24% total labour cost increase for the general worker job category and 12.71% for all other job categories.
The main effect of the wage increases is to further narrow the wage- and total labour cost gap between metro- and non-metro areas.
Other new provisions of this year's agreement include the following:
-the introduction of a trade union agency shop in the KZN metro area, whereby all non-Sactwu members will be required to pay a compulsory bargaining service fee to the trade union, equal to the union membership subscriptions; a similar facility already exists for the rest of the country.
-a reduction, without loss of wages, in the qualifying periods for the machinists job category to a maximum of 18 months (currently it is as high as 24 months' in some areas) and by 2 months' for all other job categories where the qualifying period is more than 24 months'.
-the introduction of an Industry Protection Fund, consisting of a weekly contribution of 10c per week per employee, contributed by each employee and each employer; this is to be used to initiate and support industrial policy and other measures intended to promote and protect the industry;
-the adoption of the Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of HIV/Aids & Employment (an annexure to the Employment Equity Act) as policy in the clothing industry (currently the Employment Equity Act says it is just a guide)- the clothing industry bargaining council becomes the first bargaining council in the country to do so. This is a major step forward in our nation's fight against HIV/Aids. A copy of this new policy is available on the clothing industry bargaining council's website ( www.nbc.org.za );
-new protections for contract workers: all contract workers will be automatically entitled to a pro-rata share of all statutory payments due to permanent workers, will have the same wage- and other terms and conditions of employment as permanent workers (except, at this stage, for maternity leave payments) and must be offered permanent employment after a maximum of 12 months' employment with the same employer.
-workers who have completed a learnership cannot be employed as contract workers and must be offered full time employment;
-the agreement encourages employers to provide email and internet facilities for union shop stewards at plant level, in a manner that is not disruptive to production.
The new provisions come into effect on 1 September this year and the agreement is for a 12 month period there-after, where-after fresh negotiations for a new agreement will take place.
This year's negotiations took place in the context of a substantial and continued rise in the cost of living for clothing workers struggling to assist a industry under stress.
Deputy General Secretary
Andre is also SACTWU's National Negotiator for the clothing industry. If any further comment is required, kindly contact Andre on 021 4474570.