As people all over the country prepare to celebrate the festive season, residents in Mpumalanga’s Hammersdale are bracing for hard times. Rainbow Chicken Limited Foods (RCL Foods) says it is cutting about 1,200 jobs at its poultry plants there, and could shed even more jobs in future due to cheap chicken imports from the US, Brazil and EU countries. The looming jobs losses are the latest setback for Hammersdale and surrounding areas. The industrial area had a big textile industry in the 60s, 70s and the 90s. But with democracy and the relaxation of trade barriers between SA and other countries the textile industry lost many jobs. It is estimated that the Hammersdale industrial area lost more than 40,000 textile jobs from the mid-90s to 2002, mainly because of cheap imports from China. These job losses hit Mpumalanga township hard, leaving thousands of households without breadwinners. RCL Foods became Hammersdale’s biggest employer with nearly 5,000 workers, but now it is laying off ...

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