08:15:14 local time CAMBODIA
* Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins:
District security personnel outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday carry an activist away from a demonstration in support of the 23 people detained during January’s garment strikes. Photo by Vireak Mai.
Family members of some of the 23 men sent to trial on Friday over their alleged role in January garment protests that turned violent said yesterday that the court was not giving their loved ones the chance to defend themselves and was harming their well-being further by delaying their trial.
The trial for the group of workers, unionists and activists was adjourned until May 6 after Phnom Penh municipal judge Keo Mony said the court needed more time to study the evidence.
“These people [are accused of] having incited people to protest against garment factories and causing serious turmoil in our society,” he said.
Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov, the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association president who is one of those on trial, said her husband was not questioned.
“My husband and others are being detained at Prey Sar prison while they wait for bail hearings at the Supreme Court [on May 2],” she said. “But the [trial] has been delayed so long. Why doesn’t the judge resume [today]?”
read & see more. (video report).
* Bavet protest: No-strike bonus offer backfires:
A union-estimated 20,000 garment workers in Svay Rieng province are now on strike after learning one factory in their industrial zone distributed a bonus to workers for not protesting in mass garment sector demonstrations during the first week of January.
Workers from about 30 factories in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Svay Rieng’s Bavet town have joined the protest, which began following Khmer New Year, after one company, A+J Factory, gave its worker a $50 no-strike bonus, the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) claimed.
* Bavet City Garment Strikes Gain Momentum:
Trade unions may have failed to get a stay-at-home strike for higher wages off the ground after the Khmer New Year earlier this month. But a strike for bonus pay is picking up steam in Svay Rieng Province, where some 20,000 garment workers protested at a pair of Bavet City special economic zones on Saturday.
A frustrated Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) put out a statement on Friday rebuking the workers and the government alike, urging local authorities to do more before the protests get out of hand.
The Bavet City strikes got started at a few factories after the new year holiday when some workers grew envious of their colleagues at other local factories who had just been paid a one-time, $50 bonus for agreeing not to strike over the past three months. Though most factories had not offered their workers the same deal, more and more workers at the Manhattan and Tai Seng Bavet special economic zones are insisting on it.
“We will protest until the factory gives us $50,” said Dy, a worker at the BK factory who joined Saturday’s strikes and gave only his first name for fear of retaliation from his bosses.
* Cambodia’s garment manufacturers calls on gov’t to curb illegal strikes:
The Garment Manufacturers Associations in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday urged the government to curb outlawed garment strikes that have occurred this week at Special Economic Zones in eastern Bavet City, which are expected to continue next week.
“GMAC is disappointed that the government and local authorities let such illegal action happen and have no effective measures to prevent it,” GMAC said in a statement.
“GMAC envisages that this outlawed action is evolving to violence because strikers had hurled stones at factories, threatened other workers not to work, and destroyed factories’ properties,” it said.
It said the strikes will spread to other industrial zones if there are no preventive measures.
“We’d like to appeal to the Ministry of Labor and local authorities to implement their roles in curbing these illegal strikes immediately in order to ensure security and safety for investors and workers who wish to work,” the statement.
* City rejects May Day location:
Phnom Penh municipal authorities has rejected a request from more than 10 unions to hold an International Labour Day event at Freedom Park on May 1, but the unionists have said that will not stop them from marking the occasion.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that authorities would not allow the unions to hold the event at Freedom Park – the capital’s designated protest space, which has been off limits to demonstrators since the government simultaneously cracked down on garment sector and opposition party protests in early January. He appealed to the groups to use their own offices instead.
“We do not agree with their request to celebrate International Labour Day at Freedom Park, because there are many organisations and institutes that want to use that place as well that we have refused,” Dimanche said, adding that the city had conveyed that message to unions in a meeting on Thursday.
07:15:14 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG sector saw highest deaths last year:
The second highest number of deaths (186) was recorded in the transport sector, with the construction sector ranking third which saw deaths of 95 workers
At least 1,912 workers were killed and another 5,738 were injured in workplace accidents and violence last year. Of the total number of deaths, around 70% (1,194) met accidental deaths in the readymade garment (RMG) sector which is the highest, a report reveals.
The survey styled “Occupational Accident, Violence (January-December) 2013” was conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) on the occasion of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work which will be observed today. The report, prepared using data from 20 newspapers, was exclusively given to the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
The second highest number of deaths (186) was recorded in the transport sector, with the construction sector ranking third which saw deaths of 95 workers.
In addition, 54 expatriate workers, 35 quarry workers, 27 service workers, 21 day labourers and 63 workers in other sectors lost their lives at their workplaces in a variety of accidents.
Alongside the dead and the injured, 21 workers were victims of mental or physical torture, 25 female workers were raped, 490 were kidnapped and seven committed suicide, according to the report.
The report showed that around 206 workers were victims of workplace violence that eventually resulted in death. The transport sector witnessed the highest number of deaths stemming from workplace violence, which is almost 80% (54), while 29 fishermen died for the same reason.
* One-fifth of RMG factories engaged in subcontracting:
Nearly one-fifth of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) factories are engaged in sub-contracting business and they are not members of any of the two major apparel sector trade bodies — the BGMEA and the BKMEA, sources said.
Besides, there has not been any specific guideline for conducting sub-contracting business, especially for the country’s apparel makers, they mentioned.
At least 784 out of a total of 3,497 garment factories are neither members of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) nor the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), an official database revealed.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) recently launched the database.
Without having their affiliation with any of the apex bodies, most of them are involved in outsourcing business, according to informed sources.
However, industry insiders claimed the number of sub-contracting factories could be much more as many member-factories also do such indirect sourcing.
These units manufacture apparel products for factories that are directly involved in export of the same. If they export directly, they have to have membership either of the two associations on the basis of their product lines.
* ‘Factory staff’ attack RMG workers:
Some staff of a garment factory allegedly attacked its workers who were demonstrating at their workplace at Savar’s Mushurikhola in Dhaka yesterday for their due salaries, injuring eight of the demonstrators.
The authorities of Dastagir Apparels (Pvt) Ltd are yet to pay the salaries of March to its workers, said Md Mostafizur Rahman, director of Ashulia Industrial Police.
The injured were given first aid at Hemayetpur Diagnostic Centre, said a worker seeking anonymity.
The factory Managing Director Harun-ur Rashid said some workers were injured in an incident at the factory but he did not know who were involved in it.
* ILO organises discussion on Rana Plaza in Geneva tomorrow (monday):
The ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities is organising a panel discussion tomorrow (Monday) to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse a year ago.
The penal discussions will be held at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) headquarters in Geneva on the day, which has been established by the International Labour Movement as “Workers’ Memorial Day”. The ILO has supported the move, and in 2003 declared it the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
By organising an event on this day, the ILO wants to pay tribute to the memory of the Rana Plaza victims and to reflect on the roots and aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, according to a statement of the global worker rights watchdog.
* Few factory owners’ anti-union actions hurt RMG sector reputation: asstt USTR:
Assistant United States Trade Representative Mike Delaney on Sunday said that the anti-trade union actions of some of the garment factory owners were affecting the international reputation of Bangladesh’s RMG sector.
‘It may be that the factory owners who are not willing to work with the unions are a minority, but that should be no defence and should provide no comfort,’ he said in a meeting at Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry auditorium.
DCCI and American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh jointly organised the programme on the occasion of the first meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement.
* USTR official: Reputational risk may drive away buyers from Bangladesh:
He raised the concern a day before Bangladesh and US are holding their first meeting of the Ticfa in Dhaka today
The greatest challenge Bangladesh’s garment industry faces is reputational risk and it might drive away buyers from the country, said a visiting USTR official.
“These tragedies [Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions] and a pattern of poor labour rights will drive buyers and investors from Bangladesh to other countries,” Assistant USTR Michael Delaney told a lunch meeting at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in Dhaka yesterday.
The international community is concerned over the reports of harassment and violence that newly formed unions are facing, he raised the concern a day before Bangladesh and US are holding their first meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) in Dhaka today.
“The industry and the country cannot afford to let this happen. It is critical to the future success of the industry that these problems be addressed directly and that effective mechanisms for labor-management relations be developed,” he added.
* US senator’s comments unfortunate, Tofail says:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday bemoaned the unfavourable comments made by US Senator Robert Menendez recently on the state of worker rights in the garment sector.
“His comment astonished us. It was painful and unexpected,” said Ahmed, reacting to Menendez’s remarks that the government lacks political will to protect union organisers of garment factories against “vicious attacks”.
Ahmed spoke to the media after a meeting with the visiting US delegation ahead of the inaugural meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement in Dhaka today.
He said the comment came at a time when the two countries are looking to settle their trade disputes by way of Ticfa to boost bilateral trade.
Menendez, chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, issued a statement on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, in which he accused the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association of supporting anti-unionism in factories.
“Many factory owners in Bangladesh have suppressed the formation of unions in their factories by firing union leaders and, according to reports, some factory managers have been involved in vicious attacks on union organisers.”
He said the BGMEA “continues to represent the old guard of factory owners and has been reluctant to take any action against its members who engage in anti-union activity”.
* Tofail hopes to retain GSP in Ticfa meet:
Ticfa is essential for Bangladesh, the commerce minister asserts
The decision regarding ease on the suspension of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) will be due in the first meeting on Ticfa, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has hoped.
“We have signed the Ticfa for expansion of trade and investment with the United States,” Tofail Ahmed said in a meeting with foreign delegates on Sunday.
Bangladesh pays the second highest duty fees for export of ready-made garments in the United States at the moment, a handout of the information ministry said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* TICFA wise if US exempts duty, reinstates GSP: Tofail:
The signing of Ticfa agreement with the US will be justified only after duty-free market access is offered for all products including readymade garments originating from Bangladesh to the US market and the suspended GSP trade privilege is revived.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday made the observation after holding a meeting with a visiting USTR delegation, led by assistant US trade representative Michael Delaney at his ministry office at the secretariat.
A 16-member public-private USTR delegation arrived in Dhaka on Saturday to attend the first meeting of the trade and investment cooperation framework agreement to be held today at a local hotel.
Delaney and commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed will lead their respective teams at the maiden meeting of U.S.-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment under the purview of TICFA.
* Assistant USTR for TICFA labor affairs committee, body on women’s economic empowerment:
Visiting Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for South Asia Michael Delaney today mooted an idea of establishing a TICFA Labor Affairs Committee and a TICFA Committee on Women’s Economic Empowerment for boosting Dhaka-Washington trade and investment.
“We look forward to establishing a TICFA Labor Affairs Committee and a TICFA Committee on Women’s Economic Empowerment where we can jointly work on many important issues with an interagency and inter ministerial team of experts,” Delaney told a luncheon meeting at the DCCI conference room here.
* Ticfa to open new horizon in BD-US trade, investment ties:
Terming the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) as primary mechanism for the US and Bangladesh to discuss trade and investment issues, Michael J Delaney, head of the US delegation for the first meeting on Ticfa, Sunday said it will open new horizon for both the countries.
“Ticfa provides a forum to address important issues, such as -environment, intellectual property protection, workers’ rights and safety, and economic empowerment of women,” he said at a meeting.
* Dhaka to press for DFQF access, GSP restoration:
Bangladesh will press for duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access to the US market and the restoration of GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility at the first TICFA (Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement) meeting to be held in the capital today (Monday), officials said.
“We will raise duty-free, quota-free access to the US market and restoration of GSP facility at the TICFA meeting,” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told the media after meeting with the team of United States Trade Representative (USTR) team at his secretariat office Sunday.
* Labour, women in focus:
US trade negotiator Delaney signals formation of two panels
The US plans to establish separate committees on labour and women’s empowerment under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement to ensure due rights for workers and spur women’s participation in the economy.
Michael J Delaney, assistant US trade representative for South Asia, said the dedicated committees would enable the two countries to jointly work on the important issues with an interagency and inter-ministerial team of experts.
The trade negotiator, who is currently in the capital leading a five-member US delegation for the inaugural Ticfa talks today, is optimistic about the efficacy of the arrangement, inked in November last year after decades of negotiations.
“I have long felt that we have not been well served by the absence of a regular, formal trade and investment dialogue between our countries, so I attach considerable importance to the launch of the Ticfa,” he said during a meeting with business leaders at Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the capital.
* Tofail optimistic about GSP outcomes:
After meeting a five-member USTR delegation, the minister expressed hopes about getting duty- and quota-free access to the US market for Bangladeshi exports
Ticfa talks should be considered successful if there are positive outcomes about GSP, said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on the eve of a key trade meeting with a US delegation.
After meeting a five-member USTR delegation, the minister also expressed hopes about getting duty- and quota-free access to the US market for Bangladeshi exports.
Michael J Delaney, assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia, and Dan Mozena, US ambassador to Bangladesh, attended yesterday’s meeting at the Secretariat.
In the first Ticfa meeting to be held at Hotel Sonargaon in the capital today, Delaney will lead the visiting side and Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed will head the home squad.
* Meeting RMG challenges through merger and acquisition:
The garment industry has emerged as the engine of the Bangladesh economy. Around 3.6 million people are working in this sector while 80 per cent of them are women.
About 20 million people are either directly or indirectly depending on the sector for their immediate livelihoods. Therefore, considering all these factors it can easily be assumed that Bangladesh has enabling conditions for faster growth of the industry. These factors include low manufacturing cost, export-friendly policy, geographical location, availability of workers, and long experiences in manufacturing and export.
Ironically for the last few years, Bangladesh hit the headlines of international print and electronic media quite frequently due to some incidents like Tazreen fire, Rana Plaza collapse, demonstrations of workers for wage hike and others. After those incidents, brands came up with several initiatives to improve working conditions, building and fire safety.
But the harsh reality is that a significant number of factories might not comply with the demand of brands in terms of relocation and restructuring of the factory buildings.
On the other hand, with the passage of time, wages of workers and officials will move upward naturally. Significant investment is required to make the factories compliant in terms of building and fire safety.
So, investment cost will increase.
This eventually will reduce the capacity of factories to expand their businesses by constructing new production units. Consequently, shutting down of small factories and low expansion rate of big factories would put some adverse impact on the economy of Bangladesh in terms of less employment generation, low growth in exports, and low growth of supporting industry like accessories, fabric and yarn manufacturing.
06:45:14 local time INDIA
* The ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of textile inflation:
Clothing ( kapda ) is next only to food ( roti ) in importance when it comes to meeting the basic consumption requirement of humans. Therefore, inflation in textiles matters just as much as food inflation, especially for the poor.
At the same time, it is necessary to understand the nature of inflation in textiles.
In recent times, the contribution of the ‘textiles’ sub-group to core inflation has reportedly gone up to 26.4 per cent in January and 22.15 per cent in February 2014, which is much more than its 13.32 per cent weight in the core wholesale price index. Also, it has been reported that inflation in the current year for textiles has been higher than its average for the last 10 years.
But to gain a proper perspective that will enable wise policy action, it is important to examine the components of textile inflation and also analyse consumption patterns within textiles.
06:15:14 local time PAKISTAN
* Where the only action is a commission :
It has been a year since death and misery invaded Rana Plaza in Dhaka claiming 1,135 lives and injuring about 2500, many of them now disabled forever.
Obviously no lessons were learnt from the earlier disaster when a fire at Tazreen factory killed 112 workers.
The question is: have we now learnt a lesson? Perhaps the answer remains the same – no. Maybe some changes on paper – an amendment in labour laws, elevating minimum wages, improving factory inspections – but in reality don’t expect much on the ground.
Do we see any pressure from the western fashion supply chains and retailers on the Bangladeshi garment industry to improve working conditions?
They were even unable to meet the pledges for Rana Plaza Trust Fund. And where is the government’s role in improving the working conditions, enforcing factory inspections and monitoring safety rules, moving garment factories out of congested urban areas, and action against the people responsible for the Rana Plaza tragedy?
Sadly such inaction is not limited to Bangladesh alone.
In Pakistan 257 workers lost their lives in a fire in a garment factory in Karachi and a shoemaking factory in Lahore in a single night in 2012.
Action – judicial commission, enquiry report, files and dust till it’s time for another judicial inquiry.
* Pakistani workers express solidarity with Bangladeshi counterparts:
The first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, the worst industrial accident in the history of the textile sector of South Asia, was observed in Karachi on Thursday by human rights groups and trade unions.
Around 1,100 workers had lost their lives and 2,500 others were injured in the accident on April 24 last year in Savar, an industrial zone of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
Dozens of workers have been permanently disabled because of the accident and lost their livelihood. A large segment of the casualties were female workers.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (Piler), along with other trade unions and workers organisations, arranged the solidarity function at the Pakistan Medical Association House on Thursday.
Senior labour leader Mirza Maqsood Ahmed, Piler’s Zeenat Hisam and Farhat Fatima, Shakeela Asghar of garments workers union and Nazia spoke on the occasion. They expressed concern over the lack of occupational health and safety facilities at Pakistani industries.
A similar incident occurred in Karachi at Ali Enterprises, where more than 250 garment workers lost their lives because there were no occupational health and safety facilities at the factory.
The labour leaders criticised the government for not ensuring occupational health and safety facilities at Pakistani factories.
* Implement labour laws:
On March 24, The Express Tribune published a photo with this caption — “Hands that build empires — Sughra Bibi, a brick kiln worker makes 1,000 bricks in 14 hours in a day and earns just Rs 500 to feed her family of four”. It depicts the gap between prolonged hard work and the meagre wage that a large majority of our working people suffers from. This causes a huge gap between consumption and income.
As reported in newspapers on April 15, the Supreme Court observed how could ‘families survive on (the) minimum wage’?
The problem is that a large majority of workers don’t even get the minimum wage. In spite of repeated orders of the Supreme Court, bonded labour persists and the ruling parties are not serious enough to implement their own laws, including the minimum wage and orders of the apex court.
Because of this shameless negligence, it is highly likely that the Punjab government would fail to achieve its much-touted target of 100 per cent school enrolment. Think this.
As mentioned above, due to a gap between consumption needs and wages, working parents have no option but to force their children to work.
This subsequently keeps their children away from school. No wonder, currently, in Punjab alone about four million children are out of school. Those who go, drop out. Some donors are generously providing funds for primary education, but they seem to be addressing the issue from a wrong angle.
Implementing the minimum wage in all 51 unskilled trades and punishing all those employers who are violating the labour laws, i.e., depriving workers of social security and EOBI cards, practising child and bonded labour, not providing safety and hygiene standards and failing to form anti-sexual harassment committees, etc.
A long-term measure could be to replace the labour department by establishing a labour commission, which is independent of government influence and has district level offices.
* Labour conference: Decent living essential to human values, says Mamnoon:
“Democracy in Pakistan is being strengthened…our country will emerge as one of the most important in the region over the next five years,” President Mamnoon Hussain said at the closing ceremony of the South Asian Labour Conference on Friday.
The Pakistan-China Economic Corridor will usher in an era of prosperity and development in the region, he said. “Today is a day of great hope…a day that marks the beginning of an era of mutual cooperation to improve the quality of lives of millions of people of South Asia.”
He said the South Asia Labour Conference had not only brought together like-minded people to discuss issues pertaining to labour and various other thematic areas of the conference, but also those who believed in transforming talks into action.
“South Asia is united by common values. We stand together in support of major challenges faced by the region, such as, choosing peace over conflict, democracy over dictatorship, justice over tyranny, and tolerance over bigotry.
For decades, Pakistan has been home to those who have sought refuge from regional conflicts.
We have endured the world’s worst natural calamities.
We have fought and continue to fight extremism and poverty, and we believe that the right to a decent living is fundamental to human values.”
read more. & read more.
Following the enforcement of the 18th Amendment, the subject of labour was transferred to the provincial governments. Since the majority of legislation relating to labour matters had been promulgated by the centre, they required being re-enacted by provincial governments by June, 2011.
However, except for the Industrial Relations Act (IRA), none of the other prominent labour laws have been provincialised, especially in Sindh. The IRA is critical as it deals with the formation of trade unions and workers’ and managements’ joint forums.
Due to non-conformance with statutory provisions and the constitutional requirement by the provinces, the government may have to face litigation from employers’ bodies which will be difficult for them to defend before the courts.
The good news for Faisalabad’s textile exporters is that the Japanese are keen on sourcing their imports from the city. The bad news is that they may not be able to grab this opportunity owing to the growing energy crisis — power cuts and gas rationing for their factories.
“The Japanese are shifting their business from China to other textile producing countries because of [political] tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. Last year, Japan’s textile imports from China dropped to 74pc of its total purchases of $40b, from 86pc a year earlier. China’s loss was the gain of Vietnam and Cambodia,” Sohail bin Rasheed, president of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Dawn.
Pakistan, with minuscule share of $93m in Japan’s total textile purchases worldwide, is one of these states.
“Although we have a big opportunity here, we will not be able to use it on account of energy shortages that have led to closure of a large textile manufacturing capacity in the city. Nor have we been able to take full advantage of trade concessions given by the European Union under its GSP Plus system,” Rasheed said.
Textile exporters have advised the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to desist the temptation of taxing the compliant segments, urging it to stop issuing notices on “flimsy” grounds.
Exporters say they are receiving notices to settle dues against sales tax refund. These outstanding dues have been calculated on the basis of a new policy of not allowing refund on trade with blacklisted firms. The policy, however, has been implemented with retrospective effect.
Consequently, earlier sales tax adjustment cases were reviewed and outstanding dues worked out against exporters who received refunds over the past two years.
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood said tax department had been issuing recovery notices to exporters demanding tax recovery on account of refunds received against the supplies of blacklisted suppliers.
* PHMA seeks to resolve energy crisis on priority basis:
Frequent unannounced prolonged power load-shedding has once again become a routine with the rising summer heat paralysing commercial life and industry across the Punjab.
Concerned sources said that with the onset of summer heat the consumption of electricity went up further increasing the gap between the generation and consumption of electricity in the country causing immense problem for the people.
Besides water shortage in the rural and urban areas of Punjab, where the people complained 12 hours of horrible power outage and load shedding they are forced to suffer in this scorching heat.
Muhammad Amjad Khawaja, Chairman, Pakistan Hosiery Manufactures Association (PHMA), North Zone said that the energy problems of the value-added textile sector should be solved on priority basis in case the government intend to take full advantage of the GSP-Plus otherwise billions of rupees invested in the textile sector would sink, while the government would also be deprived of billions of dollars foreign exchange by closure of this vital sector thus rendering millions of workers jobless.
* SACTWU update on state of wage negotiations in the clothing, leather and textile sectors:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has commenced its annual wage negotiations in the clothing, textiles and leather sectors.
First round negotiations commenced in mid-April this year, for 9 out of 13 national centralised sector wage bargains in which the union participates. For 4 sectors, negotiations will kick off between next week and mid-May, depending on when wage increases are due.
Following our National Collective Bargaining Conference held in early March this year, SACTWU had submitted a range of substantive demands to employers in our industry, including wage increases, improvements in retirement funding, better trade union organisational rights, employer contributions towards the union’s HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment campaign, additional holiday pay, and other related proposals.
Employer responses to date, for those sectors in which negotiations have already commenced, ranged between a wage freeze and a 5.5% wage increase.
In the clothing sector, the union has declared a national wage dispute after employers failed to table a response to the union’s wage demands. The union has referred the dispute to the clothing industry bargaining council. We now await a date for the conciliation processes to commence, as is required by the industry’s dispute resolution procedures.