SACTWU shop stewards protesting against Zara and H&M at Galleria Mall in Durban. Photo credit: SACTWU
On 4 November, Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), affiliated to IndustriALL, organized a nationwide protest against clothing giants H&M and Zara.
South Africa’s garment industry has experienced a wave of job losses and factory closures over the last two years. According to SACTWU, a key reason for this is the entry and growth of large international retailers like Zara and H&M, selling no products made in South Africa.
On 4 November, SACTWU organized protests at H&M and Zara stores around the country, to highlight “the damage that is being caused to our domestic clothing industry”, the union said in a statement.
“These foreign retailers cause fewer orders in South African factories, which contribute to local retrenchments and factory closures.”
With the protests, SACTWU is calling on the Swedish and Spanish retailers to procure locally manufactured products and have offered them assistance in sourcing quality local suppliers.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Jenny Holdcroft says:
“Multinational companies have a responsibility to make sure that their global commerce does not negatively impact on workers. Supporting local manufacturing is part of that responsibility and we urge H&M and Inditex to enter into discussions with SACTWU on how they can source local products for their stores.”