47 of 2017

Newsletter No. 47                                                                                      08 December 2017

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CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS TO MEMBERS AT THE 92nd AGM OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN APPAREL ASSOCIATION HELD ON 29 NOVEMBER 2017

The year under review has most certainly been as eventful as any in recent memory, not so much due to the state capture revelations and the dire state of our economy but more specifically developments within our National Clothing Industry and the significant impact poor economic growth and growth prospects are having on our apparel value chain.

Thursday’s announcement by S+P to downgrade South Africa’s local currency rating and Moody’s to place the country on “downgrade review”, is yet a further set-back. In response to these announcements Business Leadership SA said that it will deliver yet another blow to an already weakened economy and negatively impact the everyday lives of millions of South Africans.

Business and investor confidence is already at a 30-year low and these developments will only serve to deepen the low growth trajectory and worsen negative business confidence and adverse market reaction.

I fully agree with Business Leadership SA (BLSA) who added that events such as the two cabinet reshuffles, mixed messages around nuclear capability, the poor state of the fiscus and treasury, the lack of direction in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, have all contributed to a message of instability and lack of clear direction by government in dealing with our economic challenges.

Quoting from the press release issued on Friday by BLSA, “The situation we are in was avoidable”. Actively avoiding the rules pertaining to the definition of insanity (doing the same things over and over again yet expecting different outcomes) and ensuring that a meaningful set of building blocks are put in place under extremely challenging conditions, are all absolute requirements to fundamentally change the status quo within our sector and the economy at large.

Turning to our Association’s activities, you may wonder why we operated in such a low-key manner during the period under review. In short, a huge amount of discussion and work has taken place behind the scenes in respect of the obvious short-comings within our employer structures regionally and the need to agree on a National Apparel Manufacturing strategy and most importantly the need for a new and cohesive single National Employer body representing the Apparel value chain.

I  am pleased to advise that these engagements have reached a state of maturity to the extent that I am hoping to bring back to you early in the new year for your consideration, a detailed new design and structure for a single national employer body. I am confident that 2018 will usher in a new phase of employer activism and leadership, facilitated and driven by this new envisaged body. Your understanding in this regard is much appreciated.”

In deciding on a national strategy that will create the stimulus for the turnaround our manufacturers so desperately need, your leadership played a key role this year in securing the current initiative to establish an “Industry Masterplan for the South African RCTFL (Retail, Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather) value chain.”

I personally attended a meeting with the heads of apparel retail where this project was given the full support by the Minister of Trade and Industry which follows in the footsteps of a similar initiative in the South African Auto Sector. We brought our Industry’s current challenges and inevitable expected job losses to the attention of government and participated in a number of high level engagements which lead to the formal endorsement of the project by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies in the past month.

The RCTFL Master Plan process encompasses four phases:

  1. A review of the status quo in the apparel value chain in terms of existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as well as a review of the impact of the CTCIP and its two constituent parts, the PI and CIP on the performance of the value chain.
  2. Analysis of global CTFL trends, industry development plans and associated national policies. This phase will address amongst others, issues such as what competing economies have done to ensure the success of their value chains. What programmes drive their masterplans? Do local or international retailers play a role? If so how?
  3. Development of an apparel value chain master plan for South Africa through to 2030. This will be done in consultation with industry stakeholders, inclusive of retailers, manufacturers, the unions and relevant government departments.
  4. Evaluation of policy options and generation of CTFL policy recommendations for the period to 2030.

The project commenced on 1st October 2017 and concludes on the 30th June 2018. It will be highly participative and draw significantly on targeted inputs from stakeholders in the apparel value chain. Dr Justin Barnes has been contracted as project consultant by the DTI to develop a 2030 vision and masterplan for the CTFL value chain. It is expected that policy recommendations will be finalised for consideration by retail, manufacturers, government and labour by end June 2018.

Turning to our sector specifically, it must firstly be noted that due to our multi-term collective wage agreement reached in the Bargaining Council in 2016, we witnessed a stable labour relations environment whilst other sectors have been less fortunate.

I will be calling a mandating general meeting during the first quarter of 2018 where some key decisions will be required, not least of which relates to the future and nature of multi-term agreements.

You are urged to please get involved in all our industry structures where you feel you are able to add value and reflect on this during the annual break. Though we have done much to build the required relationships required to manage a complex Industry under threat, we require some fresh thoughts and ideas on how best to further engage with the trade union to improve our labour market regulatory environment and how to enhance the general role of the National Bargaining Council to better serve our industry.

We were actively involved in the first Clothing Sector Training Summit ever to take place. This took place in Durban on the 4th and 5th of April this year. The summit was notable for two reasons. Firstly, the official launch of the National Bargaining Council Productivity and Training Institute which is a first in South African labour relations, where employers and a trade union shared a common vision for sector skills development, sustainability and improved competitiveness. The second reason relates to the signing of a Sector Summit Training and Skills Development Accord which contains a range of ambitious commitments and skills development targets to fundamentally improve the level of skills development and associated increases in efficiencies at plant level.

Related to the topic of non-compliance is the mushrooming profile of cooperatives in our sector. Based on reports received from the bargaining council inspectorate, 90% plus of these establishments are what is referred to as “Bogus Cooperatives”. In most instances CMT factory owners obtain a Cooperatives Registration Certificate from the Department of Trade and Industry with very little if any oversight and governance audits as to the authenticity of such cooperatives.

In essence it amounts to a conversion in name and registration only whilst nothing else changes in terms of the employer and employee relationship.

The net result is that once an establishment has obtained such status, in law, it escapes the jurisdiction of the Bargaining Council. I am however encouraged to hear from our Director that legislation has been drafted and submitted for inclusion on the parliamentary agenda for 2018.

In addition, and following our support, many of you may be aware that an important amendment to our Main Agreement was gazette by the Minister of Labour to allow for the introduction of the Joint and Several Liability (JSL) provisions in our NBC Main Agreement late in 2016, whereby a design house or manufacturer can be held jointly and severally liable for any financial loss to employees arising from an underpayment of their wages.

On a sad note, I request a minute’s silence to show our respect and condolences on the passing of three members during the course of the year:

Lionel Gericke  –  MD of Genuine Connection

Michael O’Connor – MD of Jensen Belts

Tich Sacker –  Owner of Bernadotte CMT

In conclusion, I would like to record my appreciation to the Office Bearers for their willingness to serve and to our Treasurer Arthur Meyer for keeping our financial affairs on a sound footing, though slightly lower than we would like, but given the transitional nature of our activities in 2017, absolutely understandable.

Also, a special word of thanks and my appreciation to our Executive Director Johann Baard for his hard work and dedication in managing on our behalf, a particularly difficult and challenging year and his PA Edith Jacobs.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all everything of the best over the Festive Season. Have a well-deserved rest, please take care and drive safely. I look forward to engaging with you on the many exciting developments, initiatives and challenges in the new year.

Thank You  Graham Choice Chairman

All enquiries to be directed to Johann Baard on 0834444069

Tex Styles launches new brand campaign for GTP

Tex Styles Ghana Limited, the producer of GTP and other woodin fabrics, has launched a new brand campaign for GTP with a purpose of reinforcing the brand promise of GTP, which is expressed as ‘Timeless Grace’. The purpose is also to strengthen its position as a leading textile manufacturer in Ghana. GTP is Africa’s leading textile and printing brand.

“For well over 50 years, GTP has been consistent in its promise of offering consumers premium quality fabrics, timeless designs, and strong heritage that make them look and feel beautiful, proud, confident and to stay in tune with the culture. We can confidently say that GTP has become the second skin of Ghanaians,” commented Rev Badu, marketing director of GTP, at an event held in the company’s premises.

Considering the point of view of consumers, the reinforcement of unique value proposition is being done in order to stay true to the GTP brand, added Badu.

“The company will embark on the new campaign by utilising cultural attributes and courtesies associated with Ghanaians to demonstrate to the rest of the world the sociable and hospitable nature of Ghanaians and by so doing inspire others to do the same,” he further said. “We know Ghanaians are quite gracious by virtue of the cultural upbringing. Through this campaign, we want to encourage Ghanaians to teach more, share more, innovate more, celebrate more and love more. All these virtues inspire positive change and growth.”

GTP brand is a joint venture of Tex Styles Ghana Limited and Premium African Textiles Company Limited. These companies are responsible for the creation of designs, printing, distribution and marketing of the GTP brand.

Angola to re-launch cotton cropping with Japanese support

The Japanese Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) plans to send technicians to Angola for experimental cotton cultivation in the Capanda Agricultural Hub in Malanje province. Field trials with cotton varieties using a drip irrigation system, in collaboration with the Angolan Institute of Agrarian Development, will assess their adaptability and yield.

JICA support will bring in irrigation equipment, seeds, fertilizers and cotton pressing machinery, a Portuguese news agency report cited the Japanese Embassy in Luanda as saying.

Angola first witnessed cotton cropping in the mid 16th century during the Portuguese colonial period. The country’s cotton production reached a record of 86,000 tons in 1973, making it one of the world’s largest producers.

But the civil war after the proclamation of independence in 1975 virtually ended cotton production.

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Did you know……..

Men’s shirts button on the right, and women’s on the left.

Both the pencil skirt and the A-line skirt were designed by Frenchman Christian Dior, who is singlehandedly credited with inspiring 1950s fashion.

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