Press Statement dated 11 July 2018

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) supports the protected strike of the National Union of Leather Workers (NULAW), who is the majority trade union in the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry of South Africa that affects about 10 000 footwear workers, who are employed at more than 100 companies. The Southern African Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (SACTWU) is also participating in the protected strike.

Thousands of footwear workers embarked on a national protected wage strike on 9 July and demands a wage increase of 9.5% based on the fact that VAT increased to 15% and the five fuel prices increases of 2018 have eroded the disposable income of working people in South Africa. The protected strike will affect footwear factories in the major cities such as Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, George, Oudtshoorn and Johannesburg.

Five NULAW footwear members were admitted to hospital yesterday when the South Africa Police opened fire with rubber bullets on peaceful striking workers. FEDUSA calls on the SAPS to refrain from using shooting rubber bullets on peaceful striking workers and the Federation intends to report this incident to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

Footwear workers are also concerned about the negative impact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would have on the manufacturing of footwear in the country and have demanded that a Job Protection Fund be established under the auspices of the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry of South Africa in order to reskill workers to be able to operate the new modern manufacturing equipment and protecting jobs.

Footwear workers also demand that the family responsibility leave provisions be extended to include the spouses of members too.

NULAW received calls from some employers indicating a willingness to resolve the strike, however we have advised them to contact their association the South African Footwear and Leather Industries Association (SAFLIA) to table an improved wage proposal. NULAW is a founder member of the National Bargaining Council of the Leather Industry of South Africa, which was established in 1928 and cannot engage individual employers. NULAW stands ready to finalise the wage dispute and calls on SAFLIA to return to the bargaining table.

Issued by Frank Nxumalo, Media and Research Officer, Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa)