‘Impossible’ to meet basic pay ruling, say Chinese

2011-04-01 00:00

NEWCASTLE Chinese Chamber of Commerce says the demand by the National Bargaining Council that employers in the clothing and textile sector pay their employees 70% of the minimum wage is “economically impossible” to meet.

This comes as media reports claim the bargaining council will shut down factories that are failing to comply with the demand.

Employers in the textile sector in Newcastle last year made headlines when they shut down factories in the area in a dispute over the payment of minimum wages.

Alex Liu, the chairperson of the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the members are on edge.“Our problem is that more than half are already complying with the demand of the bargaining council to pay the workers 70% of the minimum wage.

“We, however, chose not to sign the agreement because we felt it would have adverse effect on some of the members that are struggling to meet the 70% demand.”

Members are already paying a minimum wage of R200 for non-skilled workers, R250 for an unqualified machine operator and R280 for a qualified machine operator.

“The bargaining council is putting pressure on the people at the bottom end and the supply chain [textile factories]; there are suppliers and retailers and if their prices keep increasing at this rate we will be out of business,” Liu said.

“We have been told that those businesses that have not met the threshold but are taking genuine steps to improve the situation will not be shut down and those who failed will face the full might of the law.”

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union said in a statement that reports that the bargaining council will shut down non-compliant factories from today are incorrect.

 

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