File photo: INLSA
Workers in the footwear industry will embark on strike from today after wage talks between their union and the sector’s employer association deadlocked.

Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) general secretary Andre Kriel said the strike will start at 10am after they and negotiating partner the National Union of Leather & Allied Workers (Nulaw) had issued a strike notice to footwear sector employers on Friday.

“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 talks had deadlocked after Sactwu and Nulaw had failed to reach an agreement with the employers’ Southern African Footwear and Leather Industries Association (Saflia).

Following the deadlock the two unions subsequently commenced a national strike ballot last Monday in the footwear manufacturing sector, said Kriel. “This secret ballot was completed on Friday. We’ve received a solid mandate: 86% of our members have voted in favour of strike action.

“Wage increases in the footwear sector were due on July 1. We will work jointly with Nulaw. This means that 10000 footwear workers will embark on national wage strike action.

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

Saflia chairperson Noel Whitehead confirmed that it had received Sactwu and Nulaw’s strike notice.

“Our (6.25%) offer still stands, and the union has an organisational right to strike.

“We will wait to see if they will follow through with the strike action,” said Whitehead.