Newsletter 15 of 2019

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           Newsletter No. 15                                                     26 April 2019

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SACTWU welcomes H&M’s collaboration with local designer

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) welcomes the announcement by H&M, the global clothing retailer, that it will be collaborating with South African designer, Palesa Mokubung, and her Mantsho label.

SACTWU is a long-standing supporter of Mokubung’s work. For example, the Mantsho label was featured as far back as at SACTWU’s 2008 Fashion Festival in a fashion show held in the cutting room of the Levi Strauss SA factory in Cape Town.

The union and its clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) members look forward to seeing South African product in H&M’s stores. Until now, none of the products sold in H&M’s 23 local stores have been made in South Africa.

As foreign retailers, like H&M, Zara and Cotton On, have grown their South African footprint, they have increasingly taken market share away from domestic retailers. This has caused a ripple effect in which local factories supplying those domestic retailers are losing orders, and job losses and factory closures are the result.

Importantly, H&M’s additional announcement on 25 March 2019 that it has established sourcing operations in South Africa and will commence testing of local sourcing provides SACTWU with hope that some of the damage done by foreign retailers to local jobs can be mitigated, and subsequently reversed.

H&M’s intention to work with Mokubung and test local sourcing follows protests by SACTWU members at selected H&M stores in October 2017, a SACTWU/Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)-led visit by H&M buyers to local CTFL factories in May 2018 and several subsequent meetings between H&M, the South African government and industry stakeholders.

SACTWU congratulates H&M on moving forward with this local sourcing project. The union views this collaboration with Mokubung as the first part of a much deeper collaboration. From SACTWU’s side, to assist H&M with its designer collaboration, the union has helped to ensure  that compliant producers manufacture the Mantsho products.

H&M’s local sourcing project represents the power of constructive social dialogue and the promise such dialogue holds to re-shape some of the harmful components of global trade. We look forward to a positive outcome and growing relationship with H&M in which their local sourcing footprint is deepened substantially, where their contribution to employment creation in local CTFL factories is expanded significantly, and where their global reach can be used to showcase South African design and quality, manufactured under decent work conditions.

Issued by Andre Kriel General Secretary SACTWU

For further comment, contact SACTWU’s Simon Eppel on 021 4474570 / 083 6523559.

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Woolies clothes a poor fit

Adele Shevel   BD Live

Zyda Rylands, CEO of Woolworths SA, has a tough job at the best of times, but the pressure has intensified as the group becomes increasingly reliant on local operations to counter the dismal performance of David Jones in Australia.

Group CEO Ian Moir is spending more time in Australia trying to fix David Jones after a number of high-level resignations and a R7bn writedown of that business early in 2018.

In SA, Woolworths’ food business remains solid despite the past two years of tough economic conditions.

Sales continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace in the latest interim report period to December.

The problem area domestically is apparel, where sales have declined for some time.

The retailer reported a 2% decline in sales at its South African clothing operations in the 26 weeks to December 23; analysts attribute this to the failure to find a balance between attracting new consumers and keeping the old ones happy.

Rylands says Woolworths went way too young, particularly in the modern apparel brands.

“We should be catering for a customer that is anywhere from 25 to 35-plus, but I think we were probably catering for an 18-year-old.

“Dresses were too short, there was too much skin showing; so the older, modern customer – we completely alienated her.”

The issues in apparel are likely to persist, at least for a while. The new head of the division, TFG director Manie Maritz, has to wait out a restraint period and can only come on board in June 2020.

Woolworths chose Maritz, who delivered good growth as MD of  Markhams, after interviewing candidates from SA and abroad.

Analysts are concerned not only that the waiting period will delay the urgently needed turnaround in the division, but also that Maritz’s background is menswear and the problem at Woolworths is women’s wear.

“The choice was for someone who understands South African markets. And someone who has a fantastic reputation; a talented merchant who built a really great business in SA.”

Apart from a vacuum in leadership in apparel, concerns have also been voiced about the wider group’s top leadership.

Shane Watkins, chief investment officer of All Weather Capital, says all the main players have either retired, resigned or got fired.

“In Australia, the original management team has gone; in SA, where apparel is the largest driver, the appointee (Maritz) only arrives next year; even (chair) Simon Susman is stepping down at the end of this year. And Ian Moir, the architect of the current strategy, retires himself within the next two or three years,” Watkins said.

2% The decline in Woolworths SA’s clothing sales in the 26 weeks to December 23.  Daily Dispatch.

SACTWU Welcomes New Tool To Defeat Bogus Cooperatives and Worker Exploitation

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is delighted to finally welcome yesterday’s long-awaited publication of the Regulations for the Cooperatives Amendment Act, 2013. This completes the legislative tasks required to give full effect to the amendments to the Act – that came into operation on 1 April 2019. Workers and their unions now have the tools to bring the full might of the law down on the wicked scourge of bogus cooperatives plaguing tens of thousands of workers across the country. In the clothing industry alone there are estimated to be around 15 000 workers abused by bogus cooperatives.

Bogus cooperatives are simply an excuse to profit off the back of exploited workers. They are established when factory owners threaten their regular employees with retrenchment unless the workers migrate into a so-called cooperative and become members of those cooperatives. The warped logic is that members of cooperatives are legally considered self-employed and up until now have been exempted from minimum wages and labour standards. Nefarious employers have seen this as an opportunity to cut wages and so workers in bogus cooperatives lose money and benefits. But it gets worse: these cooperatives remains under the control of the original factory owner who also takes all decisions around the working hours and conditions of workers, the nature of their work, and if workers raise concerns about anything, they are simply disciplined and fired on the spot by the former factory owner, or by their proxies in the cooperative. Bogus cooperatives are a stinking cesspit of labour and human rights abuses, and we are even aware of bogus cooperatives in which human trafficking has been reported to occur.

Many workers under bogus co-operatives have lost their Provident fund-, minimum wage- and  trade union benefits.

Some bogus co-operatives have promoted human trafficking in places nearby the borders of our country, such as in Newcastle and other places.

We call on the retail sector and design houses not to source their products from bogus co-operatives. Before they source their  products from co-operatives,   a full investigation must be conducted to determine its legitimacy and its labour law compliant status.

A number of labour consultants have made a comfortable living off pushing companies to convert to bogus cooperatives. Their parasitic practices have caused misery to workers. But  they have also wasted the money of companies which have paid for their advice and services. Instead of spending money to abuse workers, these companies could have spent this money on developing their infrastructure, business competence and products.

All of these jokers have now run out of time. The arc of justice has caught up with them because the newly in-effect Cooperatives Amendment Act requires cooperatives to comply with labour laws  – unless they can demonstrate to be genuine cooperatives functioning on behalf of, and in the interests of, their members. Of course, bogus cooperatives cannot prove this and any of their sham attempts to do so fall flat upon close scrutiny.

SACTWU thanks COSATU, the ANC government, the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, as well as President Ramaphosa, for guiding this new legislation along its last stretch home.

Issued by Andre Kriel SACTWU GENERAL SECRETARY

If further comment is required, kindly contact Mr Chris Gina, SACTWU’s Deputy General Secretary, on contact cell number 0829409456.

Did you know……..

Celebrities started wearing sunglasses in an attempt to remain anonymous to any fans they might bump into.

The mini skirt was named after the Mini Cooper, the favorite car of its designer, Mary Quant.

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