R50 wage increase not much help to support household of six, says machinist
Cape Town – For machinist and family breadwinner Rachmat Williams, a 5.5% wage increase – which amounts to R50 – will not make much difference in her life.
This comes as Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) concluded its outstanding wage negotiations for the Woven Cotton textile sub-sector, after it was frozen as a result of Covid-19.
Workers would now receive a 5.5% wage increase, with effect from March 1, 2021.
“We don't get enough. We were supposed to get backpay since it was approved last year, but we just got the increase, which is about R50. It is too little.
’’I support a household of six and food is expensive. If I look at my income and expenses, I don't get anything out,” the machinist of 21 years said.
The agreement was struck with the South African Cotton & Textile Processing Employers' Association, with about 8 000 textile workers employed in 72 companies nationally set to benefit.
Deputy general-secretary and woven cotton sector national negotiator Membinkosi Vilina said that the industry had been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the union was determined to get something for its workers.
“Throughout the difficult time we concluded this agreement, it is based on the fact that these negotiations were deferred.
“We could not say we were not going to do anything. We said we are going to fight and see what it is we can achieve for the workers. We pushed for our members to at least get something.
“For quite some time they didn't get the increase, which was supposed to be implemented from July 1, 2020, as it was deferred to March. They waited so long and in the meantime, everything has gone up, petrol, food, so the workers had been disadvantaged for quite some time now,” Vilina said.
“What I said during the process was very tough because of Covid-19, the negotiations, coupled with a lot of short time and section 189 processes.”
Short-time and retrenchments continued and it was difficult to say when the industry would make a full recovery, he said.