Clothing workers in South Africa could be heading for strike action after wage negotiations came to a standstill last week.

While the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) is said to be seeking a rise of13.5% on total labour costs, it says no wage increase has been tabled by clothing industry employers belonging to the Apparel Manufacturers Association (AMSA).

However, while clothing industry employers belonging to AMSA say they are "willing and desirous" to lift wages, they argue they would need to pay all workers the new minimum wage.

This creates conflict with a deal agreed by SACTWU in October that would see lower the wages for new workers coming in to the industry as part of efforts to revitalise the country's clothing manufacturing sector.

SACTWU says it is determined to fight "for a decent wage increase for our members this year."

So far this month the Union has declared a wage dispute against employers in both the Cotton Textiles and the Worsted Textiles sectors, which could lead to strike action.

Cotton textiles employers have tabled an offer of 5.5% and a reduction in the starting minimum wage rate to 80% of current levels, but SACTWU is demanding a 7.5% wage increase. Worsted Textiles employers are offering a 6.25% wage increase and the trade union is demanding an 8.5% increase.