Vavi takes on clothing pay dispute

COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the labour federation will use its national congress, beginning today, to put pressure on the country's clothing manufacturers to respond to the eight-day strike by 55000 clothing workers.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday ahead of Cosatu's national congress, Vavi said thw clothing manufacturers were "taking the maturity of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) too far".

"Sactwu has been taking increases below inflation for years. But employers are hiding behind every excuse, particularly the global crisis that was not caused by workers, to refuse an increase," Vavi said.

Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration director Nerine Khan also stepped in yesterday, calling the union and clothing manufacturers to a mediation meeting in Johannesburg tomorrow .

The union wants an 8percent wage increase for city workers and a 10,5percent increase for rural machinists.

Sactwu general secretary André Kriel says his union won't accept that workers get an 8percent increase only if they agree to lose part of their wage earnings whenever they are absent from work, even if they are on annual leave or sick leave.