SACTWU members participate in the union’s fashion contest A South African textile workers’ union has bought a textile factory in an attempt to save 2,000 jobs. The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has bought Seardel, South A …

SACTWU members participate in the union's fashion contest

SACTWU members participate in the union’s fashion contest

A South African textile workers’ union has bought a textile factory in an attempt to save 2,000 jobs.

The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has bought Seardel, South Africa’s largest clothing and textile manufacturer. Seardel’s clothing division was operating at a loss, and jobs were threatened.

SACTWU long been at the forefront of keeping jobs in fashion in South Africa. This is a difficult task, as the industry has been decimated by cheap imports from countries like Bangladesh and China which have won the global race to the bottom in terms and conditions.

SACTWU has countered this by promoting the design and production of high-quality, South African made products that are produced in unionised factories. South Africa is also one of the few countries in the world where clothing produced locally for global brands – like Levi’s – is union made.

However it it an uphill struggle. In addition to cheap and illegal imports, there is a serious problem of large scale non-compliance with minimum wages set through industry-wide collective bargaining.

The union buying and running a factory is an interesting development in the path towards worker self-management. We hope the factory receives enough solidarity orders to continue providing quality union jobs.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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