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Union wins in wage negotiations in South Africa

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14 July, 2022To bolster the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU)’s perpetual campaign for living wages, the union’s negotiating teams won above inflation wage increases across most sectors.

According to Statistics South Africa, inflation peaked at 6.6 per cent in May.
SACTWU signed some of the agreements in the bargaining councils that were set up as part of the country’s industrial relations mechanisms. For instance, in the footwear sector the union settled for 6.8 per cent effective from 1 July to 30 June 2023 after negotiations and a wage dispute. The collective agreement was signed in the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry of South Africa on 11 July. Employers were represented by the Southern African Footwear and Leather Industries Association.
Similarly, in the leather tanning sector, the union and the South African Tanning Employers Organisation signed a 7.25 per cent wage increase deal in the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry, which will benefit 2500 leather tanning works in 24 factories. The agreement, signed on 8 July is for a year.
In yet another agreement on 6 July, the union says it signed for a 7.5 - 8 per cent with the worsted textile employers which will be for two years. The negotiations took place under the National Textile Bargaining Council, with employers represented by the National Association of Worsted Textile Manufacturers.
Additionally, the union negotiated for benefits that include the family responsibility leave as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
SACTWU, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, also sent the agreements to the department of labour for extension to non-unionized factories and workplaces. South African labour laws allow for collective agreements that meet certain requirements to be extended to non-party employers who in turn will pay agency fees.
Andre Kriel, SACTWU general secretary says: 

“The signed collective agreements for the footwear sector, leather tanning, and worsted textiles, will be submitted to the minister of employment and labour, with a request for gazetting and extension to non-party employers. Agreements have also been signed in the woven and crochet textile, the cotton textile, and the general goods and handbags sub-sectors.”

“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 and should be emulated by other unions. Extending the agreements allows non-union members to benefit as well strengthening solidarity and building union power,”

says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa.