SACTWU to stepup fight

2013-03-15 00:00

THE Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has vowed to go after factories in the textile industry that do not comply with minimum wage regulations.

The union said yesterday it would step up its efforts and enforce all the legal writs issued against non-compliant companies.

The high court in Pietermaritzburg ruled on Wednesday that the blanket enforcement of minimum wages in the textile sector by the minister of Labour in 2010 for companies that were not part of the wage negotiations should be set aside.

“It is not true that the judgment means that the bargaining council is prohibited from executing writs of execution against non-compliant companies,” said André Kriel, the union’s general secretary.

“ … We will now step up our fight against illegality, by ensuring that legitimately secured writs are executed as speedily as possible.”

He said there were misconceptions about the ruling.

“It is not true that the judgment has the effect of setting aside the clothing industry minimum wage regime. As we speak now, there is still a gazetted and extended industry-wide minimum wage agreement in place … We expect them to [pay the minimum wage].”

Alex Liu, of the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the local textile factory owners welcomed the judgment, but were not overly excited about it.

“At the moment we cannot comment in detail because we are waiting for advice from our lawyers, who are still studying [the judgment],” said Liu.

The Newcastle textile factories are among the most severely affected in the industry and have faced numerous accusations of non-compliance. Some of the factories were nearly closed down.

Liu said they were not fighting to pay the workers lower wages.

“What we are saying is that wages must be linked to productivity. If a worker produces more, the employer should be able to negotiate with that worker for higher wages.”

The current wages paid in Newcastle are below those demanded by the bargaining council.

For example, a machinist who is entitled to earn R569 per week is being paid between R350 and R400 per week.

Ferdie Alberts, director of economic development in Newcastle, said it was still premature to discuss the case as it could still be appealed.

The provincial Labour Department said it could not comment on the issue because it was a bargaining council matter.

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