Cheap China imports fray clothing industry

Sactwu says the industry has suffered its worst job losses over the last decade.

Sactwu says the industry has suffered its worst job losses over the last decade. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) on Wednesday said the industry has suffered its worst job losses over the past decade.

The sector currently employs an estimated 30,000 workers in the Western Cape alone.

But 10 years ago, the sector employed almost double the number of workers.

One of the biggest contributing factors towards the drop is cheap imports from China.

Sactwu's Fachmy Abrahams says, "It was a lot more but we all know what has happened to the clothing industry. The dip that has always gone down is now starting to go upwards."

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says the Cape Town clothing and textile industry has shown some signs of recovery, despite the ongoing threat of cheaper Chinese imports.

He addressed workers at the Levi Strauss factory in Epping on Wednesday.

The minister says government intervention has helped the sector improve by addressing the lack of state support to individual factories nationwide.

Around R5 billion has also been set aside for the clothing, textile and footwear industry through a special competitiveness and development programme.

Patel has however warned the industry remains vulnerable.