About 6,000 workers in the clothing and textile industry in Gauteng have embarked on a strike following a wage dispute with the Transvaal Clothing Manufacturers' Association.

SA Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (Sactwu) spokesman Sonnyboy Masingi told Sapa on Wednesday that the union had rejected a zero per cent wage offer from TCMA and downed tools on Tuesday.

He said the union was demanding a 7.5 per cent wage increase and would not return to work until there was a settlement.

Sactwu members in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape returned to work after accepting wage packages from their employers.

TCMA spokeswoman Madeleine Loyson said the organisation sympathised with the employees' need for an increase, but the industry needed a chance to restructure and contain costs.

"The Gauteng region is not competitive locally or internationally," Loyson said. "There has been an incredible loss of companies and jobs - five years ago there were 14,500 workers in the Gauteng clothing industry, while today there are 5,700."

"The industry just cannot absorb more net increased costs."