Worst employer talks of room for improvement

2010-09-28 09:59

The Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, named worst employer by the Southern African Clothing and Textil Workers Union (Sactwu), will try to improve, its chairperson said today.

The chamber was awarded the “broken brick” by the union at its 11th national congress awards in Cape Town.

Chamber chairperson Alex Lui said he would travel to Cape Town on Thursday to meet Sactwu and receive the brick in person.

“I am going to go receive the brick in person because I don’t want them to throw the brick at us,” said Lui.

He said being the worst employer meant there was a lot of room to improve and they would improve communications and their relationship with the union.

The broken brick symbolised employers who broke down decent work in the clothing industry.

Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel said last week that the congress was concerned about job losses.

He emphasised that employment creation in the clothing industry could not be based on slave wages.

“Clothing sector member companies of this chamber pay a machinist between R180 and R280 a week, while the legal minimum wage for a machinist is already as low as R479.10 per week,” Kriel said.

The chamber employs about 4 000 workers.

A report delivered to the congress confirmed that low wages were no guarantee against job losses.

It also showed that, over a three-year period from July 2007 to June 30 this year, 18 291 clothing sector jobs were lost.

Fifty-two percent of job losses occurred in the areas of northern KwaZulu-Natal, Ladysmith, QwaQwa, Newcastle, Botshabelo and Port Shepstone, where the wage rates were the lowest in the clothing industry, Kriel said.

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