Today's Labour News

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sactwuBusiness Report writes that the Southern African Textile and Workers’ Union (Sactwu) said on Monday that big South African clothing and apparel retailers should shoulder the blame for “deplorable and terrible working conditions” in the country’s textiles industry.

Global union IndustriALL indicated in a new report entitled ‘Deplorable Working Conditions at Textile and Garment Factories in South Africa’ that SA textiles workers in peri-urban and rural areas were struggling with poor working conditions such as long working hours, poor pay and strict toilet visiting times. The report followed a visit to textile manufacturers in Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal, in December by inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour. The report noted that the inspectors discovered that workers in the factories were working “12 long working hours with only 30 minutes lunch breaks” while occupational health and safety violations were common. It added that workers “face restrictions when going to the toilets and having lunch in areas with unsanitary conditions. Some chemicals used in the factories were unlabelled and handled without personal protective equipment and in some instances placed in front of fire equipment.” Further to this, the textiles factories in the area paid wages that were below the minimum wages for the garment and textile industries. Some employers were paying R10 per hour instead of the industry minimum R25.42 per hour as agreed upon in the bargaining council. Sactwu’s Etienne Vlok said large SA retailers were making the situation difficult by not insisting on responsible workplace practices from the manufacturers that supply them with textiles. “The big concern is that SA shops and retailers are often the ones who gain the most from these practices. The companies manufacturers sell on the garments to retailers who then make money based on the exploitation of clothing workers by employers,” said Vlok. There is global pressure for companies and retailers to move towards sustainable procurement.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tawanda Karombo at Business Report

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