NEWS & ANALYSIS

Historic Covid-19 lockdown agreement – SACTWU

This guarantees employees in industry full payment for duration of a 6-week lock-down period

Clothing Bargaining Council makes historic Covid-19 lockdown agreement for the clothing industry public

6 April 2020

On 23 March this year, the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry of South Africa, ratified South Africa's first 'COVID-19 Lockdown National Collective Agreement'. 

This unique collective agreement guarantees employees in our industry full payment for the duration of a 6-week lock-down period.

It provides for consideration of extensions of this 6-week period (subject to further collective bargaining), in the event that the lockdown is extended beyond a 6-week period.

On 26 March 2020, just 3 days after our collective agreement was concluded under the auspices of the clothing industry bargaining council,  our Minister of Employment & Labour, Minister ThulasNxesi, declared this collective agreement to be national law, when he published it in the government gazette and extended it to be applicable to all companies and employees in our domestic clothing manufacturing industry. 

It is the first such bi-partite industry-wide collective agreement, globally.

However, the agreement is unique in many other aspects,  other than just the guaranteed payment provision.

For example, its scope of coverage extends beyond just the clothing industry. It also legally covers, in what is referred to as a "solidarity provision",  the whole of the fashion industry pipeline, from farming to retail distribution.

It also covers the footwear and leather industry, if footwear and leather employers and workers wish to access it.

The collective agreement is also unique in that it is the first tri-partite collective bargaining agreement. It incorporates agreed provisions not only between business and labour, but also government institutions (through the Unemployment Insurance Fund).

The agreement allows for inter-bargaining council co-operation Memorandums of Agreement (MOU), in pursuit of common goals. Already, this provision is being practically implemented, with the National Textile Bargaining Council (NTBC) making use of our collective agreement's UIF payment transmission facilities, for textile workers.

There are many other such unique features in the collective agreement.

Since the parties concluded this collective agreement on 26 March 2020, it has attracted  wide-spread domestic and global attention.

The parties to the clothing industry bargaining council in South Africa are humbled that our efforts seem to be contributing to   the promotion of new trends in collective bargaining, as well as helping in the discourse to strengthen broader social dialogue engagements.

We have therefore resolved to make our collective agreement publicly available,  and do so today. 

We are fully aware that it is not a perfect collective agreement and that there will undoubtedly be many practical difficulties in the actual implementation process.  

However,  we take this view: if we wait for perfection, nothing will actually get done.

Our collective agreement can be directly  accessed here: https://cutt.ly/HtF0525.

We say: 

"United Together, let's  build our industry, our country and our continent."

Issued by André Kriel, General Secretary, SACTWU, 6 April 2020