South Africa's first Covid-19 lockdown national collective agreement for the clothing and textiles industry was expedited and ratified by the end of March 23.
The agreement was formulated by the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry in South Africa.
The agreement is a product of fast-tracked national centralised negotiations between the parties in the clothing industry bargaining council, and has been submitted to the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) for a requested expedited emergency gazettal and extension to nonparty companies in the clothing industry.
The primary focus of the agreement sets out several safeguards for workers within the industry. It also sets out to reinforce a belief that all South Africans, their organisations and institutions develop cooperation between themselves and government during this period of national crisis. It also hopes to spur affected parties to “dig deep” to develop support programmes to address issues arising from the threat of Covid-19.
Guarantees of full payments of salaries to 80 000 clothing workers for the lockdown period is also a primary concern highlighted in the agreement.
These salary guarantees will comprise payments from both worker Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) monies and employer funds, according to the agreement.
Further, the clothing industry bargaining council will be the institution relied on for the UIF distribution payments to workers through company payroll systems.
The establishment of a clothing industry Covid-19 Lockdown Rapid Response Task Team will also be developed to manage immediate practical implementation matters arising from the conclusion of the agreement.
The parties to the bargaining council, working together with the UIF and the DEL, are now focusing on the practical modalities of implementation of the agreement.
The signatories to the clothing industry agreement are the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union, the Apparel & Textile Association of South Africa and the South African Apparel Association.