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Sactwu Closes Two Clothing Factories| News by Staff Reporter
Cheaper imports from countries like China are making SA’s clothing industry uncompetitive
Two clothing factories in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal were yesterday closed following failure to meet minimum wage rates set by the National Bargaining Council.
According to the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) the reason the factories were shut was part of a targeted campaign to get employers in the industry to comply with minimum wage requirements.
According to Sactwu deputy general secretary Wayne van der Rheede the industry would not suffer a “wholesale closure of companies” that would result in thousands of job losses.
In 2010, however, the bargaining council warned 385 incompliant factories that they would be closed if they continued to perform in this manner.
Then, at the end of last year, the bargaining council told recalcitrant factories, employing around 2,000 workers, that they would have until the end of April 2011 to be at least 70 percent compliant with the legislation.
Last month inspections were conducted at these factories to determine their level of compliance.
“We are analysing the situation as it unfolds,” said Mr van der Rheede
“We are going to target the worst offenders,” he added.
But clothing and textile factories, on the other hand, claim that they cannot remain competitive in the market if they are to meet the minimum wage requirements set by the bargaining council.
They say the industry is becoming depressed as more and more cheap imports arrive from China, as well as countries like Lesotho and Botswana where employers are not legally required to pay as much as in SA, and this is creating an uncompetitive market for local clothing manufacturers.
Ahmed Paruk, Chairman of the United Clothing and Textile Association, said another three or four factories would likely be closed in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal in the coming days.
This is expected to affect a total (including the two previous closures) of 6,500 workers.