File photo: INLSA
About 10 000 footwear workers went on a national wage strike yesterday morning, demanding a living wage, according to Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) general secretary Andre Kriel.

He cited a strike survey conducted by Sactwu and the National Union of Leather and Allied Workers (Nulaw) which he said had shown that at 1pm yesterday close to 10000 footwear workers had embarked on national wage strike action.

“Our survey shows that most footwear factories have been shut down. These include, for example, Oudtshoorn Footwear in South Western District (600 workers), Dick Whittington Shoes in KZN Midlands (360 workers), Bresan Footwear in Pieter­maritzburg (130 workers), SOP Trading in Pietermaritzburg (70 workers), Watson Shoes in South Western District (170 workers) Bolton Footwear in Cape Town (900 workers), etc,” Kriel said.

SA Footwear and Leather Industry Association chairperson Noel Whitehead would not confirm the number of employees on strike, saying he did not have feedback on that. He would not comment further.

The strike was a result of a national strike ballot which Sactwu and Nulaw conducted among their footwear manufacturing sector members from last Monday and which was completed on Friday, Kriel said.

“This secret ballot was completed on Friday past, and 86% of our members voted in favour of strike action.

“The strike commenced at 10am, with thousands of footwear workers joining the strike, demanding a better wage increase,” Kriel said.

“The issue in dispute is the employers’ final wage offer of 6.25%, which has been rejected by our members. We demand a 9.5% package increase.

“Wage increases in the footwear sector were due on July 1.

“We are working jointly with Nulaw. We are determined to decisively execute this firm mandate to strike in pursuit of our demand for a living wage in the footwear sector.”

Kriel said further updates on the strike would follow over the next few days.

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