Footwear workers down tools

South Africa’s footwear manufacturing sector yesterday embarked on strike action following a breakdown in wage talks.

According to the Southern African Clothing and Textiles Workers’ Union (Sactwu) National Collective Bargaining officer, Vilina Membinkosi, it was a decision taken unanimously by union members during the ballot process last week.

“The strike action will be taking place outside company premises in designated and agreed upon areas for picketing,” he told FTW Online. “Operations across the country will be shut down but we cannot say for exactly how long the strike will continue.”

Sactwu had called for a 9.5% wage increase for this year but employers had offered a “measly” 6.25%.

“We are not prepared to accept anything less than 8%,” said Membinkosi. “As soon as employers are willing to come back to the table with a reasonable offer then we are willing to sit down and talk.”

He said that the total workforce in the footwear manufacturing sector - over 10 000 people - was participating in the strike as both Sactwu and the National Union of Leather & Allied Workers members had voted to do so.

A notice of the mass protest was provided to employers by both unions on Friday last week.

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