South African garment workers strike on low wages

28.05.2013

10,000 Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) members embarked on a two day protected strike action against continued undermining of the clothing bargaining council and payment of wages below the legally prescribed levels.

The warning strike was in protest of violations by member companies of the United Clothing & Textile Association (UCTA). SACTWU’s core demand is immediate compliance with the legally prescribed minimum wage and an end to UCTA’s sustained attack on bargaining rights of clothing workers.

In Newcastle alone, where the prescribed minimum starting wage is as low as USD43 a week, 4,200 workers participated in the strike action. The rest of the workers supporting the strike were in other parts of the KwaZulu Natal region.  

“UCTA wants to break the power that workers have spent decades building to try to protect themselves against abuses,” states Sactwu in it memorandum of demands “UCTA wants to lower the legal wages of workers. UCTA pretends that workers at their members’ companies are actually happy with the treatment they get from their employers! But this is not true. Workers want a better life. Workers do not want to be treated like animals.”