The South African minister of labour has extended a clothing industry bargaining agreement to all industry employers, in a move that means all manufacturers will have to implement the minimum wages.

The government ruling overturns a court decision in March that said clothing manufacturers who were not part of the National Bargaining Council did not have to apply the minimum wage agreements.

The agreement increases the minimum wage by 6.5% in metro areas and by 10% in non-metro areas.

It also abolishes the previous "new entry rate" which permitted employers to take on new workers at a lower wage rate of 75% of the qualified rate in metro areas and 80% of the qualified rate in non-metro areas.

And it replaces the "new entry rate" with an "incentive wage rate", which permits the employment of new workers on 80% of the qualified rate but supplemented with a compulsory incentivised wage component that allows them to earn up to 100% or more of the qualified rate.

Access to the newly introduced "incentivised wage rate" is also restricted, banning employer organisations that have not signed the agreement and non-employer association companies that have not implemented the new wage increases. Employers are also prohibited from retrenching older workers and replacing them with new workers under the incentivised rate.

Andre Kriel, general secretary of the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu), said: "It further strengthens our previous claim that those employers who secured a recent judgement [in the Pietermaritzburg High Court] have won a temporary and hollow victory."

The union now wants "all those employers, such as those in non-metro areas like Newcastle, Isithebe, Botshabelo, Mogwase and Ladysmith, as well as those employers who ran to court instead of joining the wage negotiations process, to immediately comply with the law by implementing the now extended agreement."