The SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is revolted by the fact that human-trafficking is taking place in clothing factories in Newcastle. This has come to light since the Hawks raided a Newcastle-based clothing factory on Friday to free foreign trafficked workers who were allegedly locked inside the factory premises at night and held against their will. (See https://www.saps.gov.za/newsroom/selnewsdetails.php?nid=10116)
We have heard whispers of this happening before. However in those cases we were not able to convince workers to step forward as witnesses. This latest finding will hopefully result in a thorough investigation by authorities into the extent of this problem in Newcastle.
In some ways we are not surprised by this latest abuse of human rights by Newcastle factories. We have long said that the town operates like the Wild West. It has the highest concentration of illegality in the clothing industry nationally, with abuses of labour and human rights occurring virtually across the board. It has its own logic and rules, and blatantly and consistently disregards the authorities. The industry regulator, the Departments of Home Affairs and Labour, and the SAPS all continuously try to enforce laws in Newcastle, but at each point the Newcastle-cowboys resist and find new means to continue their games.
These Newcastle-cowboys have even used their golden tongues to charm large portions of South Africa’s political, academic and business establishment, presenting themselves as honest and hardworking heroes of a new way of doing business in South Africa.
In this particular case, workers appear to have been lured and trafficked to Newcastle from surrounding countries by the false promise of decent employment and higher wages. Yet not only did it turn out to be sweatshop employment, but the factory apparently even locked workers inside the premises at night. It is incredible that this can happen in 2017. The problem of locking workers inside factories has been repeatedly identified in the town, and it even once caused the death of two babies which were born to a mother locked up at night in one of the factories. Yet despite this problem having made national headlines at the time, and despite this issue of locking workers up having been flagged with the local industrialists many times, it has happened again.
Issued by Andre Kriel
For more information, contact Simon Eppel, Senior Researcher, SACTWU on 083 6523559/021 4474570
The 13th Congress of SACTWU took place from the 21-24th September 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme Defend the democracy, protect workers, build unity, fight corruption, grow jobs and strengthen service to members'
The National Congress is the highest policy- and decision making structure of the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU). The union's constitution requires it to be held once every three years. Congress is an opportunity to review the work of the organisation, specifically progress with the implementation of its Programme of Action decisions adopted at the previous Congress held 3 years ago. It is also an opportunity renew the mandates on policy and leadership, for the period ahead.
The last Congress was held in August 2013, at the Durban International Convention Centre. This year's Congress was the union's 13th since its founding in 1989 and over 900 delegates, guests and staff members attended.
The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) invites applications for the John Zikhali Scholarship for 2017.
The Scholarship was established in honour of the late John Mtoleni Zikhali, who served as the union's President until his untimely passing in 2006.
A single scholarship will be paid out in 2017 to the value of R30 000. The successful applicant will receive the scholarship for a one-year period, subject to the right to apply in a future year.
The scholarship will be for studies that contribute directly to the advancement of trade unionism, decent work or the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry
The scholarship will be granted for studies at post-graduate level
The successful applicant will be a South African citizen
Applications should be in the form of a letter of motivation, setting out all relevant details (proposed course of study, proposed research/study topic). In addition, applicants must also provide copies of their CV and academic record.
Applications should be e-mailed to
for the attention of the General Secretary Andre Kriel
Closing date: 30 October 2016
If you do not hear from SACTWU within two months after the closing date, please accept that your application has not been successful.