The membership of the National Union for the Clothing Industry in Bulawayo has gone down by up to 50% in a period spanning less than 12 months in a development that reflects the continued depression of the clothing industry.
Union secretary general, Joseph Tanyanyiwa said in December last year the union had over 6000 members but as of May 2012, the figure had dropped to 3000. Tanyanyiwa said the tumbling figures in membership are a result of company retrenchments as the sector is failing to recover from the economic crisis.
“Most employers are passing on the baton stick of the financial challenges to the employee and this has affected our membership in a great way because it has resulted in most companies opting to work reduced hours while retrenchments have been an option for some companies,” Tanyanyiwa said.
“As at December last year, our membership was sitting at over 6000 but it has now scaled down to about 3000 as of May this year due to retrenchments and company closures in Bulawayo.”
The union says efforts to engage Industry and Commerce as well the Labour and Socail Welfare ministries have been fruitless.
“The idea was to lobby them so that we get support and some form of protection from this unfair competition from cheap Chinese imports,” he said. “They keep promising to look into the issue but nothing has come to fruition.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Japhet Moyo has said most companies had banked their hopes on the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund which has since failed to materialise.
ZCTU western region officer, Percy Mcijo told Radio Dialogue said clothing manufacturers are facing a challenge of major retailers shunning their products for cheaper imports coming in from China and Dubai.
Tanyanyiwa said plans are underway for collective lobbying with the textile industry which he described as equally affected.