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Clothing Industry labour productivity outstrips growth in earnings PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 April 2012 17:39

South African clothing workers have become significantly more productive over the last few years. Yet each year, they earn comparatively less per garment they produce. Recent data compiled by Productivity SA, shows that between 2005 and 2010, labour productivity for the sector has increased by 73%, far outstripping the 54% growth in real earnings over the same period.

Productivity SA used base data originally from Stats SA.

The data confirms the sentiment of local clothing workers that they are working harder, faster and more efficiently but have not seen the equivalent increases in their earnings. 

While the period 2005 to 2010 saw the most dramatic rise in productivity in the sector, clothing workers’ productivity has in fact been increasing steadily without equivalent increases in real earnings since 1990. For example, between 1990 and 2005, productivity increased by 36% while clothing workers’ real earnings increased by only about 2%.

This information concretely refutes the right-wing fiction that local workers are apparently unproductive.

SACTWU has brought this information to the attention of clothing employers, when the trade union presented its overview on the state of the industry, at the start of the first round of clothing industry wage negotiations which took place last week. We presented this graph, as a graphic illustration of what we mean:


Issued by
Andre Kriel
General Secretary

If further information is required, kindly contact Simon Eppel on 021 4474570

SACTWU Bargaining Conference 2012 Declaration PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 March 2012 14:51

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) held its Annual National Bargaining Conference on 9 – 11 March 2012 in Cape Town.

The Conference was attended by 160 delegates and staff. Delegates were shop stewards representing 101 000 SACTWU members in the clothing, textile, leather, distribution and related sectors in all parts of South Africa.

The main purpose of the Conference was to consolidate the union’s wage demands for the 2012 round of substantive negotiations. The Conference successfully completed this task by re-affirming:

•    Our demands for a living wage
•    Our determination to combat attacks on the union’s bargaining structures, such as bargaining councils
•    Our commitment to strengthen centralised bargaining
•    Our determination to stamp out the scourge of non-compliance in our industry.

The details of our consolidated demands will now first be reported to our members, after which we will submit our demands to employers and release them publicly.

The Conference applauded SACTWU members for their strong participation in the COSATU Section 77 protest action against labour brokering and e-tolling on 7 March 2012. The Conference reaffirmed its support for a total ban on labour brokers. We also compliment our Federation and its affiliates for the determined and disciplined manner in which the protest action was conducted, and we reject all attempts to interpret the general strike as an indication of division within the tripartite alliance.

The Conference received detailed reports on the state of the industry and the economic bargaining indicators for this year. We noted the significant slowdown in the rate of job losses in the industry, noted the recent announcement of large pending job losses and recommitted ourselves to combat these vigorously.

The Conference was pleased to be addressed by Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary, on the current political and organisational challenges facing the working class. We reaffirmed our unwavering support for COSATU’s solid commitment to step up the fight against the growing wealth inequality in our society.

The Conference was also addressed by Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development, on government’s new infrastructure development plan. The Conference welcomed the report as a refreshing new road map to address our country’s developmental challenges and called for similar programs on rural development.

Regarding the recent Walmart judgement, the Conference warmly welcomed the reinstatement of over 500 dismissed retail workers affected by the Massmart-Walmart merger, and sees exciting new opportunities in the appointment of a specialist committee to develop proposals on how to mitigate the detrimental effects of the merger.  We regard this as an important indication that the public interest provisions of the Competition Act cannot just be ignored.

The Conference held four specialist Commissions of its own, which developed proposals on our core Programme of Action (POA) objectives, including growing the union’s membership, creating and saving jobs, improving service delivery to members and organisational renewal.

Policy proposals emanating from the Conference will now be submitted to the union’s National Executive Committee meeting for constitutional structural consideration.

Issued by

Andre Kriel
General Secretary

If further comment is required, kindly contact either of the SACTWU National Organising Secretaries, Bonita Loubser on 0828007142 or 0214474570 AND Chris Gina on 074 1932258 or 031 3011351.

SACTWU wins case that could have dismantled the NBC PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2012 17:23

On 29 February 2012, the Labour Court ruled in favour of SACTWU and the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry in a case that sought to dismantle the Bargaining Council system. This was the second such attempt by Western Cape manufacturers Sgt Pepper's Knitwear and Abbey Road Fashions to shut down the NBC.

In the first attempt, the Labour Court dismissed the case because Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road did not have the right bring the specific matter to the Labour Court. In this second attempt, the companies tried to be clever by relying on a constitutional argument to give them the right to bring this matter to Court.

The argument brought by the two companies had three legs, one resting on the other: (1) SACTWU is not an independent trade union because it controls a major clothing manufacturer, Seardel; (2) SACTWU therefore sits on both sides of the Bargaining Council, by being both the sole representative of labour and a major employer; so because of that (3) the NBC is not a true or genuine Bargaining Council, and its Main Agreement and compliance orders are invalid and without legal force.  In this way, the two companies sought to dismantle our Bargaining Council system.

These legs of argument failed. The Labour Court said that if the constitutional argument was accepted and that Sgt Pepper and Abbey road had the right to bring the matter to the labour court, they would fail anyway on the first leg of their argument.  This is so because the companies did not demonstrate that SACTWU was not an independent trade union. Section 95(2) of the LRA defines an independent trade union along two bases: as one that is “not under the direct or indirect control of any employer or employers organisation” or “free of any interference or influence of any kind from any employer or employers’ organisation”. The companies did not argue any of these two bases. What they did argue was that an employer is controlled by trade union, but that has nothing to do with the independence of the trade unions according to the LRA. Because of this failure on the first leg, the other two legs had no basis, so the entire case fell apart. It would have fallen apart even if they had the constitutional right to bring the matter to court.

Like in the first case, the Labour Court slapped the two companies with an order to pay SACTWU’s and the NBC’s costs of the suite.



PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 December 2011 00:00

John Zikhali Scholarship 2012


The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) invites applications for the John Zikhali Scholarship, in honour of our union’s late President.


  • The scholarship will be for studies that contribute directly to the advancement of trade unionism, decent work or the clothing, textile and leather industry
  • The scholarship will be granted for studies at post-graduate level
  • The successful applicant will be a South African citizen
  • The scholarship will be for an amount of R30,000

Applications should be in the form of a letter of motivation, setting out all relevant details (proposed course of study, proposed research/study topic).
In addition, applicants must also provide the following:

  • Copy of CV
  • Copy of academic record

A single scholarship will be paid out in 2012. The successful applicant will receive the scholarship for a one-year period, subject to the right to apply in
a future year. Applications should be e-mailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or mailed to PO Box 1175, Woodstock, 7925 or faxed to 021 447 2194.

Closing date: 31 January 2012

If you do not hear from SACTWU within two months after the closing date, please accept that your application has not been successful.




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