Footwear union strikes; platinum talks go onComment on this story
The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) said on Friday it would strike for higher pay at footwear manufacturers from today, as the government looked to wrap up its intervention seeking to end to a 20-week stoppage in the platinum mining sector that has battered the economy
Thousands of Sactwu members were set to down tools today after talks stalled with footwear manufacturers over wage increases.
Separately, government-brokered talks between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and platinum producers Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum, and Lonmin to end the strike in the sector were also set to resume today.
“Deliberations are at a sensitive stage, and we all remain committed to the process,” Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said in a statement on Friday.
Members of Amcu downed tools on January 23 in a strike that has heavily affected economic output.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa rejected a government-brokered wage offer on Thursday, dashing hopes of an immediate end to a strike that has idled 40 percent of global platinum group metals output.
The chief executive of Anglo American, Amplats’s parent company, said on Thursday that the dispute was the toughest ever in South Africa’s platinum sector. “After five months of strike I am not sure you can call it anything else [but a fight],” Mark Cutifani said at an industry gathering in London.
“To be in a strike after five months, something is missing in the relationship. From a leadership perspective unpacking what we are missing is as important as standing our ground when challenged.”
South Africa is nearing the beginning of its mid-year “strike season”, in which unions negotiate with employers and sometimes down tools when the talks go sour.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA, the country’s biggest union, has said a wage strike in the metals and engineering sector was “inevitable” from next month.
The Labour Court said on Friday that a temporary injunction preventing a strike by Amcu in the gold mining sector remained in place.
Sactwu wants a 10 percent rise in wages but employers are offering 7.75 percent. The union is joining a strike by a larger labour group in the footwear industry, which began today.
Around 164 companies will be affected by the strikes. Some supplied international footwear giants like Puma and Adidas, Sactwu bargaining officer Vilna Membenkosi said.
The union also declared a wage dispute in the wool and mohair textiles sector, saying that employers were offering a 6.5 percent raise against worker demands for 9.5 percent. The dispute had been referred to the sector bargaining council.
Solidarity has also declared a dispute in the petroleum sector. “Protracted negotiations are in nobody’s interest,” Marius Croucamp, the union’s head of the chemical industry, said.
Employers and unions in the sugar industry, however, reached a deal on Friday to end a strike in the sector, a government negotiator said. No further details were provided. – Reuters