South African clothing industry workers to get salary hike

SA cloth factory - Union to Union - FlickrWage hike and increased hiring bring relief to textile industry workers in South Africa. (Image source: Union to Union/Flickr)Workers in the clothing industry in South Africa are set to get a pay rise up to 10 per cent later this year, according to their union

Following a meeting with a clothing industry bargaining council in Cape Town, the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has announced that more than 85,000 industry workers affiliated with the union will benefit from the pay hike. Union members in metro areas will get a pay hike of 7.4 per cent while those in non-metro areas will receive an increase of 10 per cent in their wages.

The wage agreement settlement will lead to an additional US$25mn coming in to the South African economy over a period of 12 months, starting 1 September this year, which is when the agreement takes effect, according to Andre Kriel, general secretary of SACTWU.

The sector is seeing something of a revival in South Africa in the last few years after being severely affected by competition, mainly from China. More than 50,000 jobs had been lost in the sector in the last decade but there has been net employment growth during last year. According to Kriel, the fact that “the jobs bloodbath of previous years has been stopped” is a significant development.

The government has made some interventions, such as launching a Clothing and Textile Competitiveness Programme in 2010. Economic development minister Ebrahim Patel, who was speaking at a SACTWU event, said that law enforcement has been tightened to curb illegal imports, and that with improved hiring, the sector is now showing stability. Emphasising the need for innovation, he said the government will support companies who want to invest in modernising their workplaces.

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