South Africa’s workers struggle hard for pay raise, while going on non-stop strike

In South Africa they are taking things very seriously. Footwear industry workers, who have been on strike for nine days, have just decided “to continue their protest indefinitely”. They look quite determined indeed. One more concern, about the situation, is that any negotiating solution seems to be very distant at the moment. Trade unions, Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) and National Union of Leather and Allied Workers (NULAW) claim a pay raise by 9%. The employers association, South African Footwear and Leather Industry Association (SAFLIA), is ready to grant “6.25% more at most”. The unions’ general secretaries, Andre Kriel and Ashley Benjamin, are committed to “making every possible attempt to bring strikes to an end, but counterparty has not sent any new relevant message so far”. As reported by the Independent Online, a daily newspaper, Noel Whitehead, president of SAFLIA, announced “the strike has been affecting both parties, with no winner. In fact, most shoe factories were already working at limited speed, because of low sales”. Business figures confirm his statement: in fact, in 2017, South Africa’s yearly shoe manufacturing dropped by 17%. “This has been our first reduction since 2011. On top of that, it looks like production is bound to decrease more and more in 2018, therefore undermining the whole industry overall”, wrapped up president of SAFLIA. Ultimately, he stressed the fact that, from 2003 on, wages increases “had even exceeded inflation: therefore, a pay raise by 6.25% would be appropriate considering the current situation”.


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