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Strike Subsides as South Africa Cotton and Textile Workers See Wage Hike

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2018 wage negotiations in the cotton textile sector and with the footwear industry.

As part of the agreement, workers will see their wages increase 7.75% this year, retroactive to July 1, and in 2019, the rate will rise another 7.5%.

The union and management had declared an impasse last month after an initial offer of a 7 percent annual wage hike was rejected.

The agreement with SACTWU, a Cape Town-based organization that represents close to 100,000 workers, was reached under the auspices of the National Textile Bargaining Council, and it also includes a slight improvement in the payment of annual bonuses.

Roughly 7,500 workers nationally are expected to benefit from the agreement, according to SACTWU.

On Wednesday, the SACTWU said it had voluntarily suspended its four-and-a-half week national wage strike in the footwear sector. The decision followed a revised settlement offer received from the South African Footwear & Leather Association (SAFLIA), the employer body that represents employers in the wage negotiations.

SACTWU general secretary Andre Kriel said the revised employer offer “substantially meets our final demands, which we had tabled to SAFLIA a week and a half ago.”

“Our final demand was a 7.5% wage increase, plus an extension of the scope of the Family Responsibility Leave provision to also cover spouses in the event of sickness, plus the implementation of a post-strike normalization of industrial relations program,” the union noted.

Both agreements are subject to final membership approval and industry board ratification.