Pact to Boost Clothing Industry

Article excerpt

CLOTHING bosses and a union have agreed to a 30 percent lower wage for new employees, which they say will lead to the creation of 5 000 jobs by 2015.

The Apparel Manufacturers' Association of SA (AMSA) and the SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) have signed an agreement for new workers to be paid a starting wage at 70 percent of the minimum wage.

In Cape Town metro, the current minimum weekly wage for a machinist is R786.

The deal is meant to help breathe life into an industry where retrenchments and factory closures have been the order of the day, Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel said yesterday. But now employers will not be allowed to retrench in order to rehire workers at a lower wage, he said.

Asked if Sactwu members had consented to a lower starting wage Kriel said: "We had meetings with members and nationally we had a mandate."

He said 5 000 new jobs would boost employment in the industry by 15 percent. The deal would be monitored every six months.

"If you are out of the industry for three or more years, you will go in on the new rate," he said.

The agreement followed six months of negotiations after which it was agreed to increase wages by 6.5 percent in the metro and 6.9 percent in non-metro areas.

For years, the clothing industry has been drifting towards the abyss due to cheap imports, mostly from China.

"We will now become more competitive and it will give retailers no good reason to order goods from China. But a lower wage is not the prime driver of competitiveness. …