16 of 2020

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 Newsletter 16 / 8 May 2020

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Patel meets with clothing industry

As 1.5 million workers in the South African economy returned to work this week, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has met with representatives  of the clothing textile, footwear and leather sector.

Monday’s virtual meeting with the sector was held to review the readiness of shops and factories for the new Level 4 lockdown which kicked in on 1 May.

“The meeting agreed to develop a common framework on implementation of COVID-ready workplaces that can serve as a guide for the industry,” said the Department of  Trade, Industry, and Competition ( Dtic) on Tuesday.

The recent move from the hard lockdown to Level 4 has seen greater parts of the retail and manufacturing value chain open up.

Starting 1 May, clothing and footwear retailers started opening for customers to buy winter and children’s apparel and footwear.

This was the first time that dedicated clothing and footwear retailers have opened since the initial lockdown started on 26 March 2020.

Level 4 of the lockdown also enables manufacturers to begin manufacturing with at least 30% normal employment for all clothing, textile, footwear and leather goods; up to 50% for winter goods; and up to 100% for children’s and baby clothes, and personal protective equipment like face masks.

Retail CEOs provided the meeting with feedback on the reopening of stores and measures they have taken to manage the return to work.

Anthony Thunström, the Foschini Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and chair of the National Clothing Retail Federation (NCRF) welcomed the move to reopen clothing retail stores and noted the value of close collaboration between government and industry.

During the meeting, the Minister, retail CEOs, manufacturers and labour representatives engaged on matters that could be covered in the framework agreement for the industry to protect employees in manufacturing and retail. The framework also aims to protect customers in retail stores well.

CEO of Woolworths SA Zyda Rylands said the NCRF aims to support government’s initiatives.

“The spirit of collaboration within the NCRF is to support government’s initiatives. The terms of all back-to-work protocols starts with us. We [retailers] are a big employer of people, so if we take care of our workforce in support of government’s initiatives then we should also identify how to communicate to our customers the same health and safety protocols. We have capabilities to also support our customer to implement government’s initiatives, ” she said.

Meanwhile, the Apparel and Textile Association of SA’s (ATASA) chairperson Herman Pillay, said the industry should look into supporting more of government’s response efforts in workplaces.

The industry now has more than 350 manufacturers who have said they are ready to produce cloth face-masks, ranging from micro-enterprises employing a few people, to SMEs and larger firms.

Ensuring workplace safety

Proposals were heard on the phasing in of shift workers, social distancing for employees and customers and other necessary health protocols, to avoid a sudden increase in the spread of COVID-19 now that more parts of the retail and manufacturing are opening up.

Government provided details of the risk factors taken into account in the different alert levels and what could be done to reduce risks, enabling the economy to move more rapidly to Level 3 and below.

“As we navigate the uncharted terrain of the COVID-19 reality, it will take our collective efforts to ensure we reduce risks of infection while we reopen our economy and adjust to our new normal,” said the Minister.

Patel stressed that safety measures are essential.

“We are facing an unprecedented disruption of lives and economic well-being. That challenge of COVID-19 demands acute and targeted measures to safeguard all of us.  The public, private and civil society sectors need to work together to ensure our society’s safety, particularly in a phase of reopening more economic sectors,” he said.

Patel added that South African companies are heeding the call to make local products and in the same vein, South Africans are buying locally made products.

The clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) sector representatives also agreed to form a working group to provide policy inputs and practical evaluations to government as it navigates the COVID-19 terrain.

Details of the framework will be released in the coming days. – SAnews.gov.za

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Global fibre demand falters due to COVID-19 uncertainty

By Jeandré van der Walt

Photo Glenneis Kriel

Global wool and cotton trade slowed down drastically as orders were being postponed and cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19. Local wool producers have been warned by the industry body to expect uncertainty in the market.

The impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic is being felt across the global fibre industry, with production, logistics and retail sales being brought to a grinding halt.

According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), the effect of COVID-19 on the cotton and textile industries is very uncertain.

“The fast-moving pandemic has injected a tremendous amount of uncertainty into every link in the global supply chain. Millions of people are self-isolating and the cotton and textile business is at a virtual standstill,” a statement by the ICAC said.

A recent survey by the International Textile Manufacturers’ Federation (ITFM) indicated that the global textile industry had experienced a 31% decline in orders by early April.

The survey also pointed out that all regions around the world had suffered a significant number of cancellations and/or postponements of orders, especially South America and Africa, where orders declined 41% and 38% respectively.

“Only a few weeks ago, some regions were not fully affected by the pandemic. The new [figures] on orders reveal the dramatic extent this demand shock has [had] on the textile industry around the world. The uncertainty about the duration of the crisis weighs heavily on the industry,” the ITMF said in a statement.

The international wool industry had also been negatively affected by the pandemic, leaving many wool producers with uncertainty about the options available for their clips.

The National Farm Online website reported that due to lockdowns in the US and Europe, many orders had been cancelled. “China was the only purchaser of Australian wool, and buyer assurance plummeted.”

Hennie Bruwer, CEO of Cotton South Africa, told Farmer’s Weekly that he expected cotton consumption to be suppressed worldwide due to the slowdown of the global economy, as well as the effects of COVID-19.

“Retail sales are declining and there are cancellations of orders that will trickle down to the raw product.”

However, he said he believed that South Africa’s cotton industry was in a good position because of the quality product produced by local farmers, which earned them premium prices.

“We are also a very small player in the global cotton industry. Our size and good quality will make it easier to trade our cotton,” he said.

He said the crop would be harvested in the next two to three weeks, and traders had already hedged against any risks associated with the harvest. Bruwer said that although he expected stockpiling, he did not foresee drastic price reductions.

“Although we will not see the same world prices as we did over the past two years, we are hedged by the exchange rate that is currently in our favour. We will thus not be too bad off.”

Local wool producers were also warned that the world economy was under pressure and the wool market would suffer the effects.

“So, don’t make irresponsible decisions on short-term trends. Wool will always earn a place in the market,” advised Leon de Beer, general manager of the National Wool Growers’ Association of South Africa. Farmers Weekly

Clothing industry reaches 14m fabric masks capacity a week

By Irma Venter

The National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry had, at the close of business on May 4, accredited 388 manufacturers with a total fabric face mask manufacturing capacity of 13.9-million masks a week, says the council’s national chairperson Marthie Raphael.

The bargaining council in March ago started a programme to accredit clothing manufacturers for fabric face mask production.

This was in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the clothing and textile industry to ramp up face mask manufacturing capacity in South Africa to help combat the spread of Covid-19.

The majority of the accredited fabric face mask manufacturers are small, medium-sized and micro-enterprises (SMMEs).

“[On May 4] alone, our council’s Covid-19 rapid response task team approved a total of 217 micro manufacturing enterprises for accreditation as personal protection equipment (PPE) and other essential product manufacturers,” notes Raphael.

These micro enterprises, which are located in all parts of South Africa, employ less than six people each.

They are all registered with the clothing industry bargaining council, and are mainly located in the township economy.

“In terms of our bargaining council’s decades-old rules, such micro-enterprises are automatically exempted from the provisions of our main collective agreement. This means that they are automatically classified as ‘compliant’ manufacturing companies,” adds Raphael.

“Part of the benefits of our accreditation certification process includes free advertising for such accredited companies on Proudly South African’s recently launched dedicated fabric face mask portal.

“We are pleased that such unprecedented advertising exposure is now also automatically available to accredited SMMEs.”

Raphael says the bargaining council has introduced its PPE accreditation process in order to prevent unethical and unhealthy manufacturing practices in fabric face mask production.

“We cannot allow that the Covid-19 crisis be exploited for mere profiteering during fabric face mask production.

“Accordingly, important parts of our accreditation criteria are the use of locally produced fabric, as well as the face mask manufacturing government guidelines as issued by the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition.”  EN

Did you know……..

Zoot Suit Riot

In June of 1943, Los Angeles saw several public disturbances as white servicemen clashed with Mexican-American youths over the youngster’s “zoot suits.” The zoot suits exaggerated lines and loose fits required far more fabric than a normal suit, which was seen as unpatriotic given wartime rationing. The majority of the violence was perpetrated by whites against Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and Filipino-

Always on Sunday

The British fashion of wearing hats was started by Queen Elizabeth I. In 1571, she decreed that everyone over the age of 7 had to wear hats. You’ll still see both men and women sporting smart hats at special occasions in England, especially at regattas, horse races, garden parties, and weddings.

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