Swaziland
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

LOWEST PAID TEXTILE WORKER TO GET E1 377

MANZINI – The lowest paid textile worker will now get a basic salary of E1 377 per month following the completion of the negotiations in the Wages Council of this sector.

The negotiations, which started in April, saw the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), which negotiates on behalf of about 22 000 workers in the textile industry and others in the manufacturing and processing sector, presenting its position paper. The union had submitted a demand that the least paid workers in the textile and apparel sector should earn E3 232 per month. Subsequent to this, the negotiations ensued, wherein the employers stated the challenges they were facing as a sector. These challenges, according to sources within the textile industry, included the impact of the load-shedding by South Africa’s utility - ESKOM - which was purportedly hitting hard on them as it resulted in malls limiting their operating hours. This was said to translate to limited activity in selling of textile and apparel products, some of which are produced in Eswatini.

Powerhouses in the sector, who are clients of local firms, such as the Foschini Group (TFG), reported a loss of more than 100 000 trading hours over January and February due to load-shedding, contributing to an estimated E1 billion. The local industry players reportedly said the challenge was not unique to Eswatini but also South African factories were experiencing it.
 They said what was hitting them hard was that, unlike South African factories, their sector was not subsidised.

Complement

The aforementioned challenges were said to have mitigated in the negotiations, such that ATUSWA and the employers concluded the negotiations by awarding 7.39 per cent to factories with a staff complement of not more than 20. These are small-scale firms which are said to be still breaking into the industry. The award of the 7.39 per cent according to all categories equates to the least paid employee earning 55 cents more per hour. The beneficiaries of this agreement are in the textile and apparel sector under Category I. These are casual labourers, learners, learner mechanics A and learner sewing machinist A. They were currently paid E7.11 per hour and it shall now be increased to E7.65 per hour once the adjustment has been gazetted by the Minister of Labour and Social Security. Their salary would increase from E1 279.80 to E1 377 per month.

In fact, the union, in its position paper, had demanded that this category should be removed such that the entry level of the sector was category II. However, based on the agreement by the parties, category I was not removed as small-scale factories submitted that they relied on it for their human resource. Meanwhile, an employee in category II currently earns E9.51 per hour. Employees recruited in this category are cleaners, learner mechanics B, fusers, labourers, hand trimmers, inline examiners, layer-ups, packers, inline pressers and sorters. The category also includes screen printers, washers, soberers and learner sewing machinist B. Following the negotiations, an employee recruited by a small-scale factory in this sector would have his/her salary hiked by 70 cents. This translates to E10.21 per hour and a basic monthly salary of E1 837.80. When effected through the gazette, it shall be an increment of E126.

On the other hand, both categories in the cut, make and trim (CMT) factories, the stakeholders agreed on a 10 per cent salary hike. The CMT in apparel manufacturing are factories that cut fabric into patterns, sew the cut pieces into garments and trim excess threads from the garment as the final step of quality control. These factories are provided with the fabric and all accessories by their client while they provide the infrastructure along with the human resource.

Increased

In category I in this sector, they are currently earning E7.11 per hour and it shall be increased by 71 cents to E7.82 per hour. This shall mean once the collective agreement by the parties has been gazetted, they shall earn a basic monthly salary of E1 407.60. It is an increment of E127.80 per month as their current monthly salary is E1 279.80. Those in category II in the CMT factories shall have their salaries revised from E9.51 per hour to E10.45 within the same period. This is a hike of 95 cents per hour and translates to a basic monthly salary of E1 881. They are currently earning a basic monthly salary of E1 711.80. This means they shall now earn E169.20 more per month. On the other hand, all categories in the free on board (FOB), which means the factory is responsible for the price for the garment inclusive of fabrics, trims, accessories, cost of labour and profit from A to Z, shall have an increment of 12 per cent.

In category I in this sector, they are currently earning E7.11 per hour and it shall be increased by 85 cents to E 7.96 per hour. This means that once the collective agreement by the parties has been gazetted, they shall earn a basic month salary of E1 432.80. This is an increase of E153 per month as their current monthly salary is E1 279.80. Those in category II in the FOB factories shall have their salaries revised from E9.51 per hour to E10.65 within the same period. This is a hike of E1.14 cents per hour and it translates to a basic monthly salary of E1 917.

Earning

They are currently earning a basic monthly salary of E1 711.80. This means they shall now earn E 205.20 more per month. It is worth noting that the demands listed by ATUSWA were against the backdrop of the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Phila Buthelezi’s pronouncement that the wages councils of the various sectors had a mandate to increase the minimum wages in the industries, in such a way that an individual would be able to survive in the rapidly increasing cost of living. The minister said this after doing site visits to some of the sectors and learnt that after government, through the wages councils, had published gazettes for minimum wages, employers did not engage their employees on what they could add on top of the minimum wage. Instead, he said some employers stuck to the minimum wage, yet they were to negotiate with the workers, in terms of their affordability.

Different

Basically, by setting the minimum wage, he said government was saying workers in the different sectors should not be paid less than that (gazetted minimum wage).