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South African union wins wage increases for leather workers

4 July, 2023To reinforce the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union’s (SACTWU) endless campaign for improving workers’ lives, the union’s leather negotiating team recently won above inflation wage increases in the general goods and handbags and footwear sectors.

According to Statistics South Africa, the country's annual consumer inflation rate has slowed to 6.8% in April this year, from 7.1% in March. This is the lowest since May 2022, when the rate was 6.5%.
During the course of last week, SACTWU signed two wage agreements under the umbrella of the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry of South Africa (NBCLI).
SACTWU members in the general goods and handbags leather sector will receive a 7 per cent wage increase. This increase came into effect on 1 July. The agreement was concluded after a wage dispute, with employers who are represented by the Association of South African Manufacturers of Luggage, Handbags and General Goods.

In addition to the current paid family responsibility leave (FRL) provisions, an additional day of unpaid FRL will be granted to those workers in this sector who wish to take up such an option.
SACTWU members in the footwear sector will also receive a 7 per cent wage increase.  This settlement was concluded after two rounds of wage negotiations with footwear employers represented by the Southern African Footwear & Leather Industries Association (SAFLIA).
SACTWU, an IndustriALL affiliate, will now submit the new wage agreements to the South African Department of Employment and Labour for gazettal and extension to all workplaces in these two sectors. South African labour laws allow for collective agreements which meet certain requirements to be so extended. It means that once it is signed and gazetted by the country's employment and labour minister, these agreements become legally binding on all employers and all workers in both these sectors, nationally.
André Kriel, SACTWU general secretary says:

“The signed collective agreements for the general goods and handbags and footwear leather sectors will now be submitted to our minister with a request for gazetting and extending to non-party employers. Once done, this will provide a further impetus for our union's Living Wage Campaign.”

“The strategic ways in which SACTWU’s collective bargaining teams approach negotiations allow for the maintenance of living wages and better working conditions in the textile, garment, shoe, and leather sectors. It shows the clear advantages of centralised bargaining. Extending the agreements allow non-union members to benefit as well, thus strengthening solidarity and building union power,”

says Atle Høie IndustriALL general secretary.