A last-gasp attempt at agreeing a wage increase will take place in Cape Town

A last-gasp attempt at agreeing a wage increase will take place in Cape Town

The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) has threatened clothing employers with a national strike, potentially involving up to 80,000 workers, if wage demands are not met.

The union submitted its wage demands in March, with the first round of negotiations held in April. Three further rounds of talks, three separate conciliation meetings and numerous bi-lateral discussions have taken place, SACTWU has said.

Employers have offered a wage increase of 7%, but the union is demanding a 9% increase.

"We regard our final demand as reasonable and as affordable," SACTWU general secretary Andre Kriel said in a statement. "We cannot negotiate forever. Wage increases are due on 1 September this year, in less than three weeks from now."

SACTWU has called for a final meeting with clothing employers, which will be held in Cape Town tomorrow, in a last-gasp attempt to secure a resolution of the wage dispute.

"Should discussions fail tomorrow, SACTWU intends to conduct a national strike ballot in the industry," Kriel said. "A strike for us still remains a last resort. However, should the union be forced to trigger its strike balloting processes, there will regrettably be no turning back.

"We are of the view that we have granted employers enough time and a fair opportunity to find a constructive settlement with us. It appears increasingly that industrial action might have to be invoked, in order to break the deadlock."

Strikes involving around 3,000 workers in South Africa's cotton sector last week went into seven days, also over wages.

The issue in dispute is the employers' final wage package increase offer of 7.75%. Members are demanding a 10% increase. As a result, strikes last week continued for seven days.