December 23, 2003

Cosatu warns of declining textile sector

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has stated that about 13.000 South African workers had been retrenched by the end of October, with nearly 5.000 more notices of retrenchment given in November and December. The clothing and textile sectors were hit particularly hard by the strength of the rand which has made imports cheaper resulting in the loss of jobs. "Current clothing and textile imports account for 70% of the total sold, up from 45% a year ago. This is way above the 30% economists regard as healthy for any economy. Clothing imports from China alone were up by 60% in the first six months of the year," Cosatu said in a statement. The federation said its biggest challenge was its loss of members caused by job losses. Cosatu lost about 2%, or 30.000 members, in the past two years. Its 21 affiliates lost about 130.000 members, but this was counteracted by three federations joining Cosatu this year.

According to Vavi, the tensions that had strained the tripartite alliance of Cosatu, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) particularly towards the end of last year, had now subsided. "While there are still unresolved areas of disagreement, we have moved much closer to a consensus on many of the formerly divisive questions." Cosatu also pledged to pursue its founding goal of creating one federation in the country. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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