SACTWU challenges researchers

07 March 2013 | Story by Newsroom
Marching marshal: Members of SACTWU were vocal outside the Bremner Building on 1 March.
Marching marshal: Members of SACTWU were vocal outside the Bremner Building on 1 March.

Some 200 members of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) marched to UCT's Bremner Building on 1 March to protest against a paper written by two UCT academics.

Professors Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings of UCT's Centre for Social Science Research recently published a working paper titled: Job Destruction in the South African Clothing Industry: How an alliance of organised labour, the state and some firms is undermining labour-intensive growth. Nattrass and Seekings argue that the recent 'compliance drive' by the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry to force clothing companies in non-metro areas to pay a minimum wage of R369 per week was threatening thousands of jobs.

SACTWU took exception to their paper, arguing that it was tantamount to endorsing "sweatshops"in South Africa. The protesters handed a memorandum and R277 to deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo to pass on to the researchers. The money was a challenge to Nattrass and Seekings to try to live on the minimum wage (minus unspecified deductions).

Nattrass and Seekings have responded to SACTWU on the CSSR website and have invited Sactwu officials to live on the earnings of a former factory worker whose factory has been shut down by the NBC, i.e. R0. They note that SACTWU's memorandum does not mention the problem of unemployment.

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