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Clothing retail workers must earn much more - union

May 31 2015 14:08

Cape Town - The Cosatu-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) has called for a substantial increase in the monthly wages of clothing retail sector workers.

Sactwu submitted its proposals to the Employment Conditions Commission on Friday. This follows a government gazette notice recently published by the minister of labour, notifying the industry that the sectoral determination governing conditions of employment in the Wholesale & Retail Sector is being reviewed. The closure date for submissions was on Saturday.

In its detailed written submission, Sactwu proposes that the legislated minimum wage for shop assistants be increased by almost 40%, from the current R3 250 per month.

"We noted that this falls far below the average monthly minimum wage of R4 165 for a labourer in the manufacturing sector. This is despite the clothing retail sector being generally more profitable," said Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel in a statement on Sunday.

The minimum wage for the lowest paid worker in retail (shop assistant) must be R4 500 per month or R1 038.55 per week, while the lowest paid worker in wholesale (general assistant) must be R4 053.76 per month or R935.56 per week.

"We propose that all categories of retail workers’ wages (except for supervisors and managers, specifically the following categories: ‘trainee manager’, 'supervisor’, ‘assistant manager’ and ‘manager’ are increased by R1 250.02 per month as opposed to an equivalent percentage increase as a percentage increase will contribute to greater inequality between workers in the sector. We propose that supervisors and managers receive an increase equivalent to 75% of the increase for workers - that is R937.52," said Kriel.

"We are also appalled by the extremely large wage gap between retail workers and their CEOs."

He said it was absurd for the CEO of one of the large South African retailers, for example, to have earned a salary package of R49.9m in 2014 and another's CEO had a total package of R27.5m in 2014.

In its submission, Sactwu further called for the introduction of a compulsory retirement fund for clothing retail workers.

In addition, the union made proposals for improvements in hours of work, overtime payments, night work payments, annual leave provisions, sick leave entitlements, family responsibility leave, meal and rest intervals.

Kriel said according to Statistics SA the wholesale and retail industries, but especially the retail sector, are dominated by large enterprises, in terms of employment in South Africa.

In terms of sales, large enterprises also dominate the industry. In this regard, 69% of the income in the wholesale industry and 71% of the income in the retail industry is
earned by large enterprises.

"In other words, any adjustments to wages and working conditions in the wholesale and retail industry will have a disproportionate impact on large enterprises. It is Sactwu’s contention that large enterprises are capable of implementing higher wages," said Kriel.

"Those smaller enterprises which cannot afford increases, can be covered by an
exemption process."

Sactwu intends to verbally motivate its proposals at the next public hearing by the Employment Conditions Commission in Durban.

cosatu  |  sactwu  |  labour  |  clothing industry  |  retail


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