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Clampdown on KZN clothing factories

by lloyd last modified 2011-09-29 17:18

12 September 2011

An early morning raid into twelve of the worst clothing factories in Newcastle took employers by surprise today (29 September 2011) with some trying to evade Labour Inspectors who lead a joint inspection campaign with the department of Home Affairs, South African Police Services(SAPS) and Bargaining Council for the Clothing and Textile Sector to ensure compliance with the law.

The local inspections follows a series of complaints from the South African Clothing & Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) about exploitation of workers and poor working conditions that was highlighted as being rife in the area. The initiative that was commissioned by the Labour Department in Kwazulu Natal has revealed gross violations with the basic conditions of employment, health and safety measures as well employment equity standards.

“In one factory the operating of sewing machines were immediately stopped for not having safety guards in place which posed an immediate threat to the lives of workers”, said Abey Rasepae, Provincial Control Inspector of the Department in Kwazulu Natal .Some of the contraventions included emergency exits not being demarcated, no electrical certificates available for electrical installations and no soap or toilet paper being placed in toilets. In one instance it was found that only one toilet was shared by almost sixty male and female employees”, he said.

”No fire fighting equipment, first aiders, first aid box with inadequate medical supplies, health safety reps or committees were also some of the other serious violations detected. Employers were also found to be on the wrong side of the law when it came to making declarations and paying contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).The lack of registering with the Compensation Fund was also prevalent, said Rasepae”.

The inspection also exposed the practice of hiring illegal foreign labour from countries like Lesotho, Swaziland and China resulting in the SAPS together with Immigration Officers arresting and detaining almost forty six foreigners.

This exercise that was planned locally in collaboration with other government authorities is one of the initiatives that the department encourages within Provinces to stamp out non-compliance in addition to the national blitz inspection campaign that takes place country-wide focussing on specific high risk and problematic sectors. This is a way in which a holistic and consolidated approach is used to root out employers who flout the law. Follow up inspections will be conducted and if it is found that the employers concerned are still disregarding the law, then inspectors will not hesitate to recommend prosecution in such instances. Such initiatives will be continued with to ensure that the enforcement of labour laws gains momentum at all levels particularly where there is gross violation.

Inspectors have issued contravention notices giving employers sixty days to comply.


Jay Anand
Communications Manager

Page Boikanyo
Departmental Spokesperson

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