File picture: Zanele Zulu

Johannesburg - Clothing and textile union Sactwu on Tuesday gave employers seven days to decide on a wage settlement agreement.

“We have granted them a one-week period to resolve their internal final mandating processes,” Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) general secretary Andre Kriel said in a statement.

“Employers will now seek a clear and final mandate from their constituency regarding this matter.”

Workers were demanding a nine percent increase while the employers were offering seven percent.

Kriel said the union had submitted its 2014 wage demands on March 20.

The first round of negotiations was held on April 15 and 16.

Kriel said a settlement was discussed during a meeting between both parties at the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry's head office in Cape Town.

The union was prepared to recommend the settlement to its members, provided the employers gave a firm undertaking to settle along the terms of the agreement.

“Regrettably, we are not at this stage able to reveal the exact figures involved, due to the sensitivity and out of respect for the parties' internal consultative processes and procedures.”

There would be no further negotiations with the employers, Kriel said.

“We have set our final report-back meetings with our members for Thursday and Friday next week.”

He said in the interim, the 80,000 member-strong union would prepare for a national strike ballot, in case the employer's negotiators failed to secure the recommended settlement mandate.

“We cannot negotiate forever. Wage increases are due on 1st September this year, in less than three weeks from now.”

Kriel said a strike was the last resort. - Sapa