Share ownership in companies for workers vital for economic development: Patel

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel put the brakes on cheaper EVs by saying the 25% import duty on EVs will remain, against 18% for ICE cars.
Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel put the brakes on cheaper EVs by saying the 25% import duty on EVs will remain, against 18% for ICE cars.
Image: Supplied

Minister of trade, industry and competition Ebrahim Patel said the textile sector was vital to South Africa’s economy and job creation, adding the government would champion worker-shareholder schemes in the industry to ensure its employees are empowered.

“This is an important industry and the lives of workers and managers are very important. So the government took the unusual step of stepping in and taking ownership to strengthen and support our economic development.”

The minister spoke at the launch of Sheraton Textiles workers’ trust in Cape Town on Tuesday.

He said it was imperative for local companies to invest in state-of-the-art plant and production facilities and machinery so locally produced goods could compete against imports.

Sheraton Textiles is a bedding and linen producer that is more than a hundred years old and has survived ructions including the great depression, pressures from the influx of cheap imports years ago, and most recently the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) invested R140m in Sheraton Textiles and refurbishing a new manufacturing facility for the company. The newly launched trust allows more than 400 Sheraton employees to have a 15% equity stake.

The IDC bought the remaining shares and became a 100% shareholder. Sheraton Textiles has since recovered.

In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament he wanted five years of his presidency to be one of partnership between managers and workers through master plans.

“This master plan was not about what government is going to do but what it is that these partners can do together. We spoke to the stakeholders, and they said they were ready to join. We raised it in government, and representatives said they’re ready for this.”

He said the number of companies with worker share-ownership programmes were growing among South African companies with more than half a million workers benefiting from owning a stake in the companies that employ them.

“There are now 125 companies in South Africa with worker share-ownership programmes. From companies like Shoprite, PepsiCo, Heineken and the smallest company that only has nine workers ... There are 551,000 workers who have shares in the companies that they work for.”

The worker’s trust elected trustees to represent the interests of the workers in the management of the trust. Sheraton Textiles CEO Saleem Mowzer said staff held rigorous sessions with the IDC and contracted groups to outline the work and functions of the trust.

The trustees are Cathleen Davids, Reuben Reed, Ntokozo Moyo, Caryn Ruyter and Mohammed Mothala, who was brought on as the board representative trustee. A non-executive trustee will sit on the board and represent staff interests at a board level. 



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