11 of 2018


Newsletter No. 11                                                                                                           29 March 2018

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Scientists to turn chicken feathers into socks

Tony Carnie

Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

Scientists are hard at work in a new R37m research laboratory in Durban, expecting to turn tonnes of chicken feathers into anything from shampoo to shirts, socks and reinforcement fibres for rockets.

And it is not just chicken feathers they are trying to turn into money but a range of unwanted “waste” products discarded every year by major South African industries.

“We are throwing away millions of rand every day. It is such a waste and a highly irresponsible use of our natural resources,” says Prof Bruce Sithole, chief scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research biorefinery in Durban.

Speaking at the launch of the new biorefinery research facility this week, Sithole noted that less than 50% of each tree processed by the pulp and paper industry was turned into a commercial product. The remainder (bark, sawdust, sludge or fly ash) was either burned, dumped into landfills or pumped into the sea.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the new science and technology minister, said nearly 1-billion broiler chickens were slaughtered locally in 2013, leaving behind a pile of nearly 240-million kg of feathers every year that were mainly dumped in landfill sites.

To turn this mountain of feathers into something more valuable, Dr Tamrat Tesfaye and colleagues in the Durban biorefinery are boiling and digesting piles of sterilised feathers to extract keratin proteins, which can be turned into several high- value products.

Other scientists are experimenting on how pulp and paper waste can be transformed into high-value cellulose nanocrystals, which fetch about $1,000 for every kilogram.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research officials said the biorefinery research facility was the first of its kind in SA and was equipped with specialist equipment owned by just a handful of local institutions.

Post SACTWU Bargaining Conference Update

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) held a successful National Bargaining Conference this past weekend in Durban.  A total of 425 delegates representing over 100 000 SACTWU members nationally attended the Conference. The main purpose was to consolidate our union’s national wage demands for this year’s collective bargaining season. Our Bargaining Conference have completed this task successfully.

The Conference focused on the following core issues, placing a great emphasis on the 1% VAT increase and a ban on labour brokers.

•    that our collective bargaining demands will include a wide range of issues, mainly covering matters such as leave (annual and family responsibility), hours of work, the wage model for the industry, job grading, the closed shop, social benefits (health-care, retirement), HIV/Aids, union facilities (time-off, resources, rights at work, closed shops), job security (including the issue of wage guarantees),promotions, affirmative action and expansion of the bargaining unit to cover more categories of workers;

•    that we regard the 1% increase in VAT which was announced in the National Budget earlier this year as a serious attack on the living standards of our members, tens of thousands of whom live in decentralised areas of our country and who are the lowest earners in the manufacturing industry and mainly single mother women. We are of the view that the burden of budget shortfall should have been borne by the rich, not by the poor. In this regard, we will demand from capital in our industry (the bosses), over and above our normal wage demands, an extra 1% wage increase in order to the negate the regressive effects of the VAT increase on our members;

•    That we will demand that a ban on labour brokers in our industry be included in all our collective bargaining agreements. This is strengthen the advances already made in the Labour Relations Act but which we regards as insufficient to rid our society of this unacceptable slave labour practice.

We will now, as a next step, submit our 2018 wage demands to our employer parties.

Issued by Andre Kriel General Secretary SACTWU

For further comment please contact SACTWU’s Deputy General Secretary on 082 940 9456.

Cotton export dents industrialisation: Nigerian Minister

Continued export of raw cotton with little or no value addition by the African producers is unsustainable due to global instability in the prices of the commodity, cautioned Nigerian minister of state for industry, trade and investment Aisha Abubakar at the 16th African Cotton Association (ACA) annual international congress in Abuja recently.

Though Nigeria does believe in the unmatched opportunities for economic growth and development the cotton sector offers African economies, the quest for industrialisation can only be attained if the countries can develop this viable sector and put in place a profit- oriented goal and setting an agenda and a performance-based review, a report in a Nigerian newspaper quoted Abubakar as saying.

While Asia produces 60 per cent of global cotton output, Africa produces only about 16 per cent in spite of its huge potential, he said, adding that Africa’s quest for industrialisation can be achieved by developing this viable sector.

Kenya to reduce permit costs for Indian textile workers

The workers’ permit fees for Indian expatriates in the textiles and apparel sector in Kenya will be reduced from 200,000 Kenyan shilling (KES) to 10,000 KES by the end of March. According to industry, trade and cooperatives cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed, the incentive aims at enabling export-oriented garment factories source labour with specialised skills.

The Indian expatriates will transfer the skills to local workers, Mohamed was quoted as saying by a local newspaper report.

This is a step to do away with barriers that make it difficult for Indian businesses to invest in Kenya, he added. F2F

Did you know……..

Hobble Skirts

“Hobbling” is a term for tying an animal’s legs together to prevent it from running away. In the early 20th century, the hobble skirt attempted to do the same to women. Designed specifically to slow women down and prevent them from taking large steps, the hobble skirt is certainly symbolic of how women were viewed at the time. According to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, the first hobble skirt is credited to a French designer called Paul Poiret, who eschewed petticoats for this sleek, crippling silhouette, while also forgoing the then-popular corset. “Yes, I freed the bust,” Poiret once wrote. “But I shackled the legs.”

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