Textiles and clothing accounts for 10% of South Africas manufacturing jobs

Textiles and clothing accounts for 10% of South Africa's manufacturing jobs

South Africa's textiles and clothing industry has seen the biggest drop in employment of all the country's manufacturing sectors over a ten-year period.

Just-released government data from Statistics South Africa shows the number of people employed in the manufacturing industry declined from 1.44m in 2005 to 1.19m in 2014. The largest drop in employment occurred in the textiles industry, which lost 91,000 jobs over the period.

Textiles and clothing accounts for 10% of the country's manufacturing jobs – and the figures also show the sector pays the lowest average salary.

The average salary for an employee working in manufacturing was ZAR265,871 per annum in 2014, far higher than the ZAR69,443 (US$5,022) for a textiles and clothing worker.

Additional information released by Statistics South Africa shows the annual percentage change in textiles and clothing manufacturing production by volume has fallen by 2.4% seven-month period from January to July this year. The year-on-year decline was 0.6% between 2014 and 2015, with an average drop of 0.8% for the whole period from 2011 to 2016 to date.

At the end of August, around 80,000 clothing workers across South Africa were awarded an above-inflation wage increase as part of a new two-year deal.

The first year increase of 8.5% for member companies of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) became effective on 1 September this year. Of this, 8% will be allocated to increase the industry minimum wage and 0.5% will be used to improve the employer provident fund contributions.

For the second year, an increase of the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1% will become effective in September 2017.

This is provided that in the event of CPI plus 1% resulting in the total labour cost increase being less than the rand value increase for 2016, the adjustment for next year will be the rand equivalent of the 2016 total labour cost increase.

"Should CPI plus 1% in 2017 exceed this, the parties shall renegotiate the total labour cost quantum," said SACTWU general secretary Andre Kriel.

The agreement also provides for improvements in shop stewards' paid time off, improved sick leave provisions for workers, and a commitment to host an industry summit to evaluate the state of the industry and discuss what more should be done to further stabilise and grow it.

In a novel first for the industry, the agreement introduces a provision which imposes "joint and several liability" regarding sub-contracting to non-compliant companies. This is to help stamp out non-compliance with the agreed industry terms and conditions of employment.