Strikers put foot down over increase demands
Shoe industry workers continue fight for 9.5% pay rise
As the national footwear strike entered its second week on Monday, union representatives said the thousands of striking workers remained committed to the fight for an increase of 9.5%.
Hundreds of workers from five Bay footwear factories have joined nearly 10,000 workers across the country in striking since Monday last week.
After visiting workers at companies on the Garden Route and in the Bay, National Union of Leather and Allied Workers (Nulaw) general secretary Ashley Benjamin said they remained united and strong.
Bagshaw Footwear, Little Slipper, Fred Footwear, Golden Thread Footwear and RV Footwear are among the firms affected by the strike.
“The visit went very well,” Benjamin said.
“We must find ways to resolve the situation.
“The strike continues, but I think [there will be an] opportunity for employers and workers to get closer and I hope they get together soon [to resolve the strike].
“I am confident the parties will start talking to each other.”
Benjamin said there were no updates on negotiations by late Monday afternoon.
The strike was launched after wage negotiations deadlocked last month, with workacceptable ers demanding a 9.5% increase while employers have offered 6.25% across the board.
Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) general secretary Andre Kriel said the union would continue to fight for a fair resolution for its members.
“We obviously want the strike to be resolved as soon as possible,” Kriel said.
“However, it is important to resolve it in a manner which is to our members.
“Until then, we are determined as a way forward to continue with the strike, and to possibly intensify it.”
Employers’ organisation the Southern African Footwear and Leather Industries Association executive director Jirka Vymetal said any possible resolution was in the hands of the unions.
“We still believe our offer – of a 6.25% increase and family responsibility leave being extended to spouses – is a fair offer,” Vymetal said.
“We have not closed the door on discussions, because the last thing we wanted was a strike.
“The difficulty is that the unions only want to hear from us if we have more to offer, and unfortunately this is our best offer.
“According to us, it is now in the unions’ hands. They need to think hard about the offer.”..