OFF THE SHELF: The clothing business in SA faces many challenges, including global economic instability.Picture: Bloomberg
More than 80 South African clothing companies have closed down in the past year, which resulted in job losses for more than 1700 workers. These are some of the statistics that emerged from the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry’s 15th annual general meeting (AGM), which took place in Salt River on Thursday.

Sicelo Nduna, general secretary of the council, said in his presentation of an overview of the main events since last year’s AGM that last year the parties to the council concluded a two-year agreement which came into effect from September 1, last year and ended on September 1, this year.

Nduna said in terms of the agreement, the current provident fund employer contribution levels would be improved by 0.5% with effect from August 1, next year.

He added that the industry’s employment strength has been fairly stable when compared to last year’s statistics. However, there has been a small decline in the number of employees by 1731.

Nduna added that the council established a productivity and training institute (PTI) in 2015 and, since its inception, the institute has been involved in a number of key projects.

He said the PTI convened the first industry summit in April, focusing on training and skills development and was attended by union representatives, industry executives, cabinet ministers, value chain counterparts and senior government officials.

“Skills audit workshops and factory visits focusing on identifying scarce and critical skills in managerial and technical roles was conducted. This will feed to industry sector skills planning. A second leg audit covering all bargaining level jobs is in progress and will start in February 2018,” Nduna said.

Nduna said in October an NQF Level 4 generic management training was started for first line managers in manufacturing control for 20 learners from 10 factories in Gauteng.

The institute had started working on scoping a job evaluation exercise to align current grading with technological reality of the clothing manufacturing industry which has impact on career roadmapping.

Looking at national totals over a period of four years starting from 2014 to this year, he said in 2014 the industry had 839 clothing factories which had registered with the council. “In 2015 we saw a reduction to 821, in 2016 we saw a reduction again to 805. As of August 2017 we saw the number reducing to 772.”

Freda Oosthuysen, the council’s chairperson said challenges ahead include the continual existence and mushrooming of bogus co-operatives, continued economic pressure that is added to by global economic instability and country credit rating downgrades.

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Cape Argus