Six textile factories in Lesotho have closed down, leaving 6,650 garment workers unemployed, after their foreign owners walked out over the Christmas period.

The six factories that have been shut Leisure Garments, Modern Garments, Precious Six Garments, TW Garments, Lesotho Hats and Vogue Landmark.

Secretary general of the Factory Workers Union, Billy Macaefa, said the factory closures were directly related to the lifting of export quotas at the start of 2005.

Macaefa told the AP news agency that although some factory owners had complained about the strength of the South African rand against the US dollar, the union believed they had quit because of the heightened competition caused by the ending of quotas.

The owners, two of which were from China, two from Taiwan, one from Mauritius, and one from Malaysia, didn't inform or pay their workers.
Lesotho has duty-free access for its textiles to North America under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).