4 of 2017


Newsletter No.04     10 February 2017

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Newcastle Again Scrapes the Bottom of the Barrel


The SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is revolted by the fact that human-trafficking is taking place in clothing factories in Newcastle. This has come to light since the Hawks raided a Newcastle-based clothing factory on Friday to free foreign trafficked workers who were allegedly locked inside the factory premises at night and held against their will. (See https://www.saps.gov.za/newsroom/selnewsdetails.php?nid=10116)

We have heard whispers of this happening before. However in those cases we were not able to convince workers to step forward as witnesses. This latest finding will hopefully result in a thorough investigation by authorities into the extent of this problem in Newcastle.

In some ways we are not surprised by this latest abuse of human rights by Newcastle factories. We have long said that the town operates like the Wild West. It has the highest concentration of illegality in the clothing industry nationally, with abuses of labour and human rights occurring virtually across the board. It has its own logic and rules, and blatantly and consistently disregards the authorities. The industry regulator, the Departments of Home Affairs and Labour, and the SAPS all continuously try to enforce laws in Newcastle, but at each point the Newcastle-cowboys resist and find new means to continue their games.

These Newcastle-cowboys have even used their golden tongues to charm large portions of South Africa’s political, academic and business establishment, presenting themselves as honest and hardworking heroes of a new way of doing business in South Africa.

In this particular case, workers appear to have been lured and trafficked to Newcastle from surrounding countries by the false promise of decent employment and higher wages. Yet not only did it turn out to be sweatshop employment, but the factory apparently even locked workers inside the premises at night. It is incredible that this can happen in 2017. The problem of locking workers inside factories has been repeatedly identified in the town, and it even once caused the death of two babies which were born to a mother locked up at night in one of the factories. Yet despite this problem having made national headlines at the time, and despite this issue of locking workers up having been flagged with the local industrialists many times, it has happened again.

Issued by Andre Kriel, General Secretary. SACTWU
For more information, contact Simon Eppel, Senior Researcher, SACTWU on 083 6523559/021 4474570

The 2017 Durban Fashion Fair Mentorship: And the Designers are……

As part of the Fashion Development Programme which is proudly supported by eThekwini Municipality, the journey for 2017 kicked off with the showcasing of talented designer creations in the hope of securing a place on the catwalk during the fashion week, at the Durban Fashion Fair which takes place in August.

Recently, the Municipality put out a notice to invite designers to participate in the annual Fashion Mentorship Programme which teaches and guides designers all about the business of fashion and grooms them for the fashion week.

The standard each year gets higher and higher as each designer submits their proposal and creations motivating why they should be selected for this “once in a lifetime” programme.

The Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit that manages this programme, received a number of applications from within the eThekwini Municipality area and was followed by an intensive interview process and much deliberation amongst the judges. In the end, only 20 students could be selected out of the number of talented designers who were interviewed.

Congratulations to the following successful mentorship designers: Delisile Monica, Fezeka Mtshengu, Khonokuhle Mthembu, Sindi Majola,  Ayanda Mngadi, Athenkosi Mfungula, Bongekile Sondezi, Casey Hutchinson, Cheryl Jafta, Claudia Novuka, Leona Pillay,  Mandisa Dladla,  Nduduzo Mgobhozi, Nivadni Sewinath, Nozimanga Mbatha, Ntokozo Buthelezi, Tessa van Rensburg, Wanda Majubana, Yanela Mtolo, Nishithi Sewnath

My Newsroom

New boss vows to overhaul Edcon

The newly appointed chairman of Edcon said the retailer was too important to fail and would be turned around. Gareth Penny, who took up the position on Wednesday, said he was “confident we can continue to make progress in recreating a world-class retailer”.

Penny, the former group CEO of De Beers, said Edcon, which is the largest clothing retailer in SA, had 45,000 employees, 9-million registered customers and was a major player in local malls.

“It will be got right,” said Penny, who during his tenure at De Beers was instrumental in reshaping the world’s largest diamond company.

The other board members are Bernie Brookes, Rhidwaan Gasant, Daphne Motsepe, Marti Murray, Grant Pattison and Keith Warburton. Brookes, who is CEO, is the only executive of the relatively small board.

Former Massmart CEO Pattison is the only nonexecutive with any significant retail experience, although it did not involve much exposure to clothing. Walmart has failed to make inroads in the local clothing market with Makro and Game failing to crack the market.

Analysts were generally unimpressed by the list of new directors. “It looks as though Bernie [Brookes] doesn’t want to be challenged,” said Sasfin analyst Alec Abraham.

But Penny said Pattison and Brookes had good hands-on retail experience and as a former chief financial officer of Clicks, Warburton would provide good financial back-up.

He said Motsepe, who is a former Absa executive, and Gasant, who is CEO of Rapid African Energy Holdings, would bring important perspectives to the board. Murray, an American and along with Brookes the only non-South African on the board, “has great experience in dealing with corporate challenges”.

Penny said former Edcon CEO Steve Ross and former Woolworths top executive Andrew Jennings, who had been touted as candidates for the role of chairman, would play an advisory role to the company.

Jennings, who is South African, worked in Australia as a consultant for Brookes in his largely successful efforts to turn around leading Australian group Meyers.

The previous Edcon board also had limited retail experience and was dominated by bankers with a sprinkling of miners. As well as diamond retailing, Penny’s experience includes mining and banking.

Penny said Brookes had done a good job since he took over in October 2015. “We’ve made progress but there is still a significant period ahead.”

Business Day


EFI Reggiani

With more than 60 years of innovation, research, and technological excellence, EFI Reggiani (which includes the Reggiani Machine, Mezzera, and Jaeggli brands) is a worldwide provider of complete solutions for the textile market, with a focus on the development of sustainable processes. With the high quality and performance of its machines and outstanding service to its customers, today EFI Reggiani is the premiere manufacturer of traditional digital printing machines and pre-post treatment machines (such as washing systems, bleaching, dyeing, etc.).

EFI Reggiani delivers an overall solution for the whole textile process, starting from yarn treatment to fabric printing and finishing. EFI Reggiani designs, manufactures, sells, and services high-quality machines across the globe for a wide variety of substrates and applications (fashion, home textile, sportswear, signage, flooring, automotive, and outdoor). EFI Reggiani’s innovations are the result of extensive research targeted to improve productivity and quality, optimize the textile manufacturing process, and reduce energy and water consumption, as well as environmental impact.

EFI Reggiani now has added GSW to their network of agents in Africa, MD of GSW Mr Roberto Franco says “due to popular demand of high-quality textile printing, we are proud to be in partnership with the EFI Reggiani team and have already received an influx of enquiries in the textile manufacturing sector.”

Did you know….

In 1909, the U.S. Navy banned naked lady tattoos on service member’s arms. In order to join the Navy, men had to have clothes tattooed on their nude bodies.

There’s a sock company that sells “sock jars” — slightly mismatched collections of socks — with the idea that you’re probably going to lose your matching pair anyway

To Advertise………………….. Click here to see fact sheet. New rates for 2017

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