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COSATU Today  |  COSATU Press Statements

Thousands of clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers nationally protest against labour brokers

7 March 2012

Preliminary report by the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) on support by clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers for today’s national COSATU protest action against labour brokers.

Today South Africa’s workers again demonstrated their mass support for COSATU’s decent work programme of action, by protesting in huge numbers against the problem of labour brokering. Workers in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry supported this action too. In most parts of the country the industry has come to a standstill. Information available as at 10:30am today indicates that 74% of all clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers are participating in the protest action.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 69% of workers did not come to work. Large factories including DB Apparel (1,010 workers), Happy Footwear (900 workers) and Vimal Enterprises (600 workers) reported full participation of workers in the protest.

In Gauteng, Free State and the surrounding provinces, 88% of workers did not come to work. Large factories like Seton (940 workers), Fieldswear (480 workers) and Diva Fashions (440 workers) were closed or came to a complete standstill.

In the Eastern Cape, 68% of workers did not come to work. Large factories like Time Clothing (560 workers) and Da Gama Textiles (440 workers) were closed or came to a complete standstill.

In the Western Cape, after reporting to work this morning, workers left their workplaces between 9am and 10am. A later statement will include details of the participation rate in the Western Cape.

These statistics were generated by a country-wide survey in our industry conducted by SACTWU, with information supplied by company employer representatives and/or shop stewards. The survey to date covered 299 factories employing 42,200 employees in the industry.

SACTWU denounces labour brokering as a form of human trafficking. It feeds off workers, robbing them of a decent income, denying them job security and converting humans into simple commodities that can be discarded at will. Labour brokering is growing within some of the sectors in which SACTWU organises. This tendency must be stopped in its tracks. We have managed to have the practice prohibited in parts of the local textile manufacturing sector. We intend to achieve the same in all the other sectors in which we operate. Labour brokering does not contribute to the sustainable development of our industry since it adds to the de-skilling of workers with short-term, irregular and uncertain contracts with indecent employment practices.

Issued by Andre Kriel, General Secretary

Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers` Union (SACTWU)

If more information is required, contact Fachmy Abrahams on (021) 447 4570.