Home Press Releases Archived 2013 Minister of Labour extends clothing industry bargaining council wage agreement
Minister of Labour extends clothing industry bargaining council wage agreement PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 April 2013 00:00


The Minister of Labour has extended the 2012/2013 clothing industry bargaining council wage agreement to non-party companies. The extension was gazetted on Friday 12 April 2013.  The agreement was signed in early October last year, after negotiations between the Southern African Clothing &  Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) and seven clothing employers’ organisations represented on the National Bargaining Council For The Clothing Manufacturing Industry (NBC).
The gazetted extension of the agreement has the effect of making its terms legally binding on all clothing employers and all clothing workers in all parts of South Africa nationally, and empowers the bargaining council to prosecute those employers who do not comply with the agreement’s provisions.
The summary key provisions of the now extended agreement are as follows:

-it increases the minimum wage by 6.5% in metro areas and by 10% (rounded) in non-metro areas such as Newcastle;
-it abolishes the previous “new entry rate” which permitted employers to employ new workers on a lower wage rate  of 75%  of the qualified rate in metro areas and on 80% of the qualified rate in non-metro areas;
-it replaces the abolished “new entry rate” with an “incentivised wage rate”, which permits the employment of new workers on 80% of the qualified rate but supplemented with a compulsory incentivised wage component which shall allow such workers to earn up to 100% or more of the qualified rate;
-it restricts access to the  newly introduced “incentivised wage rate” by making it not applicable to employer organisations which have not signed the agreement and those non-employer association companies which have not implemented the new wage increases (the Natal Clothing Manufacturers’ Association [NCMA] is the only one of the seven NBC party employers’ associations which has not signed the agreement); 
-it prohibits employers from retrenching older workers and to replace them with new workers on the incentivised wage rate;
-retrenched employees are given the right to preferential re-employment in their same previous job category and wage rate;
-all employers (including those not represented at NBC level) are in future required to implement all agreements negotiated at NBC level, failing which an automatic 10% wage increase shall become applicable to them with effect from 1  September each year;
-the wage gap between metro wages and non-metro wages shall automatically be narrowed as follows (it is currently at about 68%):
                to 71% from 1 September 2013;
                to 73% from 1 September 2014;
                to 75% from 1 September 2015.
-it encourages compliance with the new wage agreement by affording current non-compliant companies an opportunity to lift their non-compliant rates immediately to a minimum of 80% of the wage rate and to phase in to 100% of the rate over an 18 month period, in equal 6-monthly increments; companies who honour this term of the agreement will be accorded “Level B” compliance status and are automatically exempted from bargaining council prosecution;
-it compels the trade union and each of the NBC party employer organisations to table “…one practical concrete proposal…”   at each future NBC executive meeting on how to further promote compliance in the industry;
-it allows for an increase in NBC- and employee benefit fund levies, equal to the now gazetted percentage wage increases;
-it prohibits any “downward variation” in the terms and conditions of employment of current employees;
-it prohibits the outsourcing of work from any compliant company to any non-compliant company;
-it requires the parties to enter into local procurement accords with all provincial and local governments to require such spheres of government to only procure their clothing industry related products from compliant companies and not from non-compliant companies;
-it grants the trade union, SACTWU, “….the unfettered right to embark on industrial action against any company which fails to implement the terms of this agreement”.

The Minister has gazetted the extension in terms of Section 32(5) of the Labour Relations Act. The Minister has further given notice that the now extended agreement comes into effect on 22 April 2013 and has extended its legal duration until the end of August 2016.
This is a significant  development and a great victory for SACTWU members. The union’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which concluded its three-day meeting in Cape Town on Friday, welcomed it and warmly thanks the Minister of Labour for her decisive action to protect vulnerable clothing workers, with this slogan: “No retreat, no surrender!”.
It  further strengthens our previous claim that those employers who secured a recent judgment (in the Pietermaritzburg High Court) have won a temporary and “hollow” victory.
We recognise and applaud those non-party employers who have already voluntarily implemented the new minimum wage levels, without the compulsion of a Ministerial gazettal.  They constitute the vast majority of employers in the industry. We will continue to work constructively with them.
We now require all those employers, such as those in non-metro areas like Newcastle, Isithebe, Botshabelo, Mogwase,  Ladysmith etc , as well as those employers who ran to Court instead of joining the wage negotiations process, to immediately comply with the law by implementing the now extended agreement.
We caution that their failure to do so will leave us with no option other than to:
-ensure that the bargaining council intensifies its compliance enforcement processes;
-invoke our now  gazetted and extended “unfettered right” to strike against such non-compliance.
Issued by
Andre Kriel
General Secretary
If further clarification is required from Mr Kriel, kindly contact SACTWU’s Media Project Officer Nazmia Leite on cell number 0721986061 to make the necessary arrangements.