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South African garment sector faces further job losses
Jul '12
The prospects of closure of apparel manufacturing units and the consequent job losses are looming large on the South African garment industry, which employs over 57,000 workers.
Enterprises paying the prescribed minimum wage say that they are operating at an undue disadvantage, and would have to shutdown their factories and curtail jobs.
On the other hand, around 40 percent of apparel producing units in South Africa, which do not adhere to the minimum wage provision, say they just cannot afford to give minimum wages to their workers.
Secretary General of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), Andre Kriel said the main roadblock impeding the transformation of the industry is the actions of local garment producers, who are employing more efforts to combat worker’s unions and existing wage structures, rather than trying to modernize their firms along the lines of the vision of the Government’s industrial policies.
Meanwhile, the members of the Apparel Manufacturers of South Africa (AMSA) have proposed to hold a special general meeting in the Western Cape province to deliberate on the issue of factories that are not complying with the National Bargaining Council’s minimum wage provisions.
According to AMSA Executive Director, Johann Baard, the Bargaining Council system has became ineffective and sooner or later the country’s labour market would become deregulated.
Following which, all decisions regarding wages and salaries and other employment conditions would have to be made at plant level or through the Ministry of Trade and Industry. However, both these alternatives are "fraught with complications" upon their implementation, he said. 
Seardel, the largest clothing producer in South Africa, sacked around 1,500 workers during April and May this year, while another producer Trubok has shed 400 jobs till now this year.
Chelsea West and Baisch Knitwear, the two Cape Town-based garment production firms have ceased operations this year.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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