Talks in bid to end strike

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA PETERSEN

A MEET­ING with the the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA) has been set for to­mor­row in Durban in an at­tempt to re­solve the na­tional footwear sec­tor strike, which is en­ter­ing its fourth week.

The strike, which in­volves 8 500 work­ers, started on July 9 after a dis­pute with the South­ern African Footwear and Leather In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tions, an em­ployer or­gan­i­sa­tion, and em­ployee unions the South­ern African Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Work­ers’ Union (Sactwu) and the Na­tional Union of Leather and Al­lied Work­ers (Nu­law) after wage nega­tions dead­locked.

Work­ers’ de­mands in­clude a 9.5% in­crease, as well as an ad­just­ment to the three-day an­nual fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­ity leave to in­clude cover for when spouses fell ill. Cur­rently, work­ers can only take leave when their chil­dren are ill.

The em­ploy­ers ini­tially of­fered a 6.25% in­crease but have since in­creased it to 7%.

Both of­fers were re­jected by the em­ploy­ees.

Due to the ex­tended length of the strike, the CCMA of­fered as­sis­tance to the Na­tional Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil of the Leather In­dus­try of South Africa to re­solve the dis­pute.

The ini­tial date had been set for ei­ther Fri­day or Satur­day but was moved to to­mor­row in or­der to ac­com­mo­date all the af­fected par­ties.

The unions have agreed to the meet­ing and said they were will­ing to en­gage and com­prise with em­ploy­ers.

Both An­dre Kriel, Sactwu’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, and Ash­ley Ben­jamin, Nu­law’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, said although they were ask­ing for a 9.5% in­crease, they were will­ing to ac­cept 8%.

“We are of the stance that com­pro­mises can be made. We are ready to en­gage with the em­ployer,” Ben­jamin said.

How­ever, he main­tained that a 7% rise would not be ac­cepted.

Kriel agreed that a set­tle­ment needed to be reached.

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