Thousands of textile workers in South Africa are preparing for a "solidarity" strike this week after union chiefs organised a mass walk-out in a row over working conditions and shift allowances at a Cape Town company.

Staff at five garment firms will strike today in support of their colleagues at Team Puma but SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) officials say a national strike will be held later this week if Team Puma bosses do not agree to their demands.

Team Puma bosses on Friday agreed to union calls for an 8.2 per cent pay rise in a bid to end the three month dispute but differences still exist over weekend work allowances, transport for shift workers and issues related to annual leave.

Company chairman Robert Feinblum warned the industry was being "sabotaged" by the unions and added that his managers had been threatened with violence during the dispute.

Separately on Monday, Sactwu continued its wage negotiations for the clothing sector in decentralised areas such as Newcastle, Isithebe, QwaQwa, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Hammersdale and Dimbaza.

The first round of negotiations were held in Cape Town, under the auspices of the recently established National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry. The negotiations cover around 50,000 low paid workers.

Union chiefs are demanding a reduction in wages, significant pay increases, annual bonuses and better working facilities as well as an HIV/AIDS levy payable by employers of 10c per employee per week.