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South Africa Reaches Settlement on Cotton Worker Strike

Members of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) have been on strike for the past three weeks, demanding higher wages.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in Johannesburg announced Friday that the strike has reached a settlement, which will prevent a potential national strike involving the sector’s 80,000 workers.

Cotton industry workers are demanding an 8.75% wage increase and an additional 2.5% increase to cover rights issues.

SACTWU and the South African Cotton Textile Processing Employers Association agreed to a third party mediation to discuss a solution to the strike in a meeting last Wednesday. During the meeting, SACTWU member associations developed a recommended settlement to present to the striking workers.

The union released a statement Thursday saying, “The union will now consult our members to secure a final mandate whether or not to accept the recommended settlement position. We expect that this process will be finalized by Monday next week, where after we intend to announce the specific details involved.”

A finalized report released Friday revealed both the Union’s demand and the recommended settlement. The Union’s final demand was for a 9 percent increase for metro area workers and a double-digit increase for non-metro area workers. The recommended settlement is an 8 percent increase for metro workers and an 11 percent increase for non-metro area workers, effective September this year.

The workers must still decide whether to accept or reject this recommendation on Aug. 21. Another update on the status of the settlement will be announced Wednesday.

SACTWU’s footwear sector was also on a two-week strike for higher wages in June.