Textile sector threat to fabric of society

DA GAMA Textiles was once a hub of activity with high productivity and employing thousands of workers in the 1980s, former employee Phumzile Fikizolo reminisced.

Nontsikelelo Rode said she worked at Yarntex, a wool thread producer in Fort Jackson, until she was retrenched in 2005. Her two children aged 21 and 35 are also unemployed, while one of her sons is in prison.

Unemployment in Mdantsane is rife and persistent even for the youth. It is not uncommon that you find three generations of family living in one house and many of them depend on their grandparents’ old-age pensions. Gertrude Gabada , 55, told the Dispatch her family relied on a generous neighbour, who even helped to pay her youngest son’s fees at Buffalo City College. Neither she, her husband or either of their two children are employed.

Gabada’s eldest son will be turning 30 in July. His most productive years will soon pass by but he has never been employed. “No one in my family puts food on the table,” Gabada said, pausing, as a lump came to her throat and her eyes welled up with tears.

“I am desperate for work that pays and I am prepared to do anything. We got child support grant for my son until last year. Now it’s very difficult to buy food, let alone pay his fees. We rely on handouts from a neighbour,” said Gabada as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

Thembela Mpevushe’s family of four rely on her husband’s salary, but with bills to pay, it’s not much she added.

According to Manufacturing Circle, South Africa lost 300000 jobs in the manufacturing sector from 2008 to last year.

The clothing, textile and tobacco industries of Southern Africa are affected by cheap Chinese imports

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released earlier this week, showed that the employment rate in the Eastern Cape has grown to 30.2% from 29.8%. The national average rate of employment rose to over 25%.

For the Eastern Cape, the expanded unemployment rate which includes those who are no longer looking for work, is at 45.8%.

According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey released on Monday, 51000 people in the Eastern Cape found jobs in the period January to March this year, but the unemployment rate has risen because more people have become job seekers than those who have found employment. —

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