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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU urges clothing retailers to co-operate with government-

03 - 11 - 06

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the Department of Trade and Industrys decision to establish a monitoring committee to track the implementation of import restrictions on cheap Chinese clothes.

COSATU appeals to the retailers - who this week were issued with Special Import Permit certificates indicating their individual import quotas - to reconsider any plans they may have to go to court to stop the quotas. Instead we urge them to comply with the quotas, fill their shelves with Proudly South African products and help to save and create jobs in the local clothing and textile industry.

COSATU has welcomed, and supported, calls on the retailers not to take the matter to court, from the ANC, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

The ANC reiterates its support for the steps taken by government as an interim measure to protect jobs and provide an opportunity for the local clothing and textile industry to place itself on a sustainable footing".

The SACC urges big clothing retailers not to escalate the battle over cheap imported textiles by challenging quotas on Chinese textile imports in court, but to make use of existing dispute resolution mechanisms to discuss their differences with government and union officials. SACC General Secretary, Eddie Makue, says he agrees with SACTWU general secretary, Ebrahim Patel, that South African products could also be marketed affordably. "South African workers are not overpaid; the prices paid by consumers also have to cover the salaries of senior management."

The Treatment Action Campaign has pledged to oppose the retailers as a friend of the court if they decide to go ahead with the planned action.

This is an encouraging example of Alliance partners and civil society working together in the national interest. It stems from a decision taken at last years alliance summit that safeguard measures on imports must be taken to give industries in crisis an opportunity to restructure and to link these measures to industrial policy measures. The summit set up a task team to look at measures to save this industry, and this has contributed to the decision to adopt the quota plan.

We must agree with the ANC that working together, government, producers and retailers will be able to develop this vital sector of our economy, ensuring that it contributes to employment creation and economic growth in a sustainable manner into the future