Agreement reached to make textile workers' lives easier during lockdown
Cape Town – After a meeting with the Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry, textile unions have come to an historic agreement that will make the lives of textile industry workers easier during the 21-day national lockdown.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown that would restrict the movement of citizens, with the exception of essential workers like doctors, nurses and security services, starting at midnight tomorrow.
While the lockdown will see many confined to their homes and unable to work, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu), the Apparel and Textile Association of SA (ATASA) and the SA Apparel Association (SAAA) agreed, among other resolutions, 80 000 clothing workers would be guaranteed full pay for a six-week lockdown period.
Sactwu chairperson Marthie Raphael said the groundbreaking collective agreement was concluded after fast-tracked national centralised negotiations between the parties to the clothing industry bargaining council.
The agreement notes that payment to workers will be made up of worker Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) monies and employer funds and that the clothing industry bargaining council will be the institution for the UIF distribution payments to workers in our industry, via company payroll systems.
“The agreement also makes provision for the establishment of a ‘Clothing Industry Covid-19 Lockdown Rapid Response Task Team’ to manage immediate practical implementation matters arising from the conclusion of the agreement,” Raphael said.
The agreement has been submitted to the Department of Labour for a requested expedited emergency gazette notice and extension to non-party companies in the clothing industry.
Raphael said the parties to the bargaining council were now focusing on the practical modalities of implementation of the agreement.
“The clothing industry bargaining council extends our deep appreciation to the Minister of Employment and Labour, the UIF Commissioner and the officials of the Department of Employment and Labour, for their unwavering support, wise guidance and advice during this unprecedented national negotiations process.”
“We specifically want to thank workers and employers for their willingness to mandate their leadership to take the necessary patriotic risks to conclude what we hope is a pioneering centralised bargaining agreement.”