Newcastle Chinese employers are the worst - SACTWU

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce received the ‘Worst Employer Award", a broken brick.

The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) has branded clothing employer member companies of the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce as the worst employers. This took place during the union's 11th National Congress Awards evening held on Friday night, in Cape Town. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce received the ‘Worst Employer Award", a broken brick, which will be delivered to the Chamber within the next month. This Chamber employs about 4 000 workers. The broken brick symbolises employers who break down, not build, decent work in the clothing industry.

The union's National Congress was very concerned about job losses, but emphasized that employment creation in the clothing industry cannot be based on slave wages. Clothing sector member companies of this Chamber pay a machinist between R180 and R280 a week, while the legal minimum wage for a machinist  is already as low as R479.10 per week.

A report delivered to the Congress confirmed that low wages is no guarantee against job losses. The report showed that, over the 3 year period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2010 (the Congress review period), 18 291 clothing sector jobs were lost, 52% of which was in areas where the wage rates are the lowest in the clothing industry (Northern Natal, Ladysmith, QwaQwa, Newcastle, Botshabelo, Port Shepstone).

The union is determined to intensify its compliance enforcement campaign in the immediate period ahead. Every clothing employer in the country must obey the law, and this remains a central demand of the union in any talks about a new wage model for the industry.

The SACTWU National Congress ended yesterday.