TEXTILES AND CLOTHING INDUSTRY:
Battle to mend a frayed sector run ragged by imports
We’ve had a very rocky ride and we have lost ground. The industry is stagnant at the moment
SA is fighting to revive its frayed clothing industry, once a crucial provider of jobs in a country suffering from high unemployment, as a flood of cheap imports forces local factories to lay off workers. Once the economic lifeblood of many small regional towns, the abundance of cheaper products from China has led to the loss of nearly two-thirds of the sector’s jobs over the past two decades. "After being employed for 22 years, we were informed that the factory would close down in eight weeks," says Vimla Padayachee, 46, who lost her job three years ago. The clothing factory in Verulam, north of Durban, shut down after years of battling low demand for its products. "A person of my age is not likely to get another job again, and so are my colleagues," Padayachee says. The former seamstress is one of thousands of clothing sector workers who have been made redundant, in a country where official unemployment is nearly 30%. The dire situation forced the government to intervene, while bu...