Workers in KwaZulu-Natal have been called on to join the strike in the contract cleaning sector, the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) said on Thursday.

“They are currently not on strike because they have a separate bargaining forum,” chief negotiator Lungile Ntshuntshe said.

The strike is currently affecting cleaning at old age homes, private hospitals, shopping centres and government institutions in every province except KwaZulu-Natal.

Six more unions would join the strike on Monday.

A full-blown strike would lead to over 100,000 contract cleaning workers walking off the job.

“We intend to put pressure on cleaning sector employers to return to the negotiating table and offer working conditions and salaries which will improve conditions in this most vulnerable sector,” he said.

Satawu is leading negotiations on behalf of the National Security and Unqualified Workers' Union, the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union, the National Union of Hotel Restaurant Catering, Commercial Health and Allied Workers, the SA Cleaners, Security and Allied Workers' Union, and the Democratic Union of Security Workers.

Two other unions - the Hotel, Liquor, Catering Commercial and Allied Workers' Union of SA (Hotelicca) and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union of SA - went on strike on Monday.

The unions demanded that the salaries of workers earning less than R2400 a month should increase to R4200 a month.

Those earning above R4200 should get a 10 percent increase.

Other demands included a yearly 13th cheque, an eight-hour working day and for members in rural areas to be paid the same as their urban colleagues.

“This is a slave-wage industry and our members are justified in calling for an improved offer from the employers,” Ntshuntshe said.

“If we are serious about bridging the apartheid wage gap then we must raise the living standards of workers in the cleaning sector.” - Sapa