Chellco Industry Limited in Kaduna, Nigeria, plans to retrench 100 workers as textile factories struggle to cope with increased costs including recent tariff increases of 5 to 20 per cent. Further, the increased cost of electricity, which makes up to 50 per cent of operating costs, make the factories blankets, shawls and bed covers more expensive than those imported from China.
The National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, is worried by the job losses and factory closures which, it argues, can be reversed if the government of Nigeria takes measures to protect the textile sector. For example, buying bulk goods from the factories as well as promoting the buying of Nigerian made textile products over the imported ones can help in the recovery of the sector.
NUTGTWN also welcomes on-going government plans to revive the garment and textile sector in the country. Government policies including the Nigeria Cotton Textile Development Scheme should be given more support. Among other things, the scheme aims to promote the growing of more cotton by giving seedlings to farmers.
Union president John Adaji says:
“We have to see the immediate and effective enforcement of the presidential order on procurement of made in Nigeria goods and put an end to the reckless smuggling and counterfeiting of textiles. There must be effective implementation of the cotton, textile and garment policy. Nigeria must also launch a campaign like the Wear South African campaign which saved jobs and rescued some factories from closing.” The campaign was started by another IndustriALL affiliate, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
Cheaper garment imports and smuggling of clothing have badly affected the sector and Adaji says better infrastructure and reliable and affordable electricity were key to turning things around.
Says Paule France Ndessomin IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:
“Reviving declining industries in the garment and textile sector is important for industrial development in Nigeria. This can only happen if factories remain open and continue to manufacture.”
Since the 1980s the sector, which used to be a major contributor to the country’s economy, has declined with over 500 000 jobs lost. Over $278 million was invested in the garment and textile sector in 2010.