Briefs: Job Losses

Has the ‘Chinese tsunami’ reached you?Philip Sapud

The giant wave of Chinese imports has reached Western Cape’s shores. Long-established manufacturer of boilers, Consani Engineering, went into liquidation earlier this year. More than 400 workers lost their jobs.

The company could not compete with similar products imported from China. The growing strength of the rand against the dollar only worsened the situation. The region is currently negotiating the restructuring and sale of Gabriel’s, a shock absorber manufacturer, and this could affect about 1000 workers. This too is due to the Chinese tsunami. A shock absorber from China lands in the market for R48. A shock produced by Gabriel retails for R87. Swedish company, Electrolux in Paarden Eiland has downsized its workforce from 200 to 60 due to international competition.

Many other companies are working short time. In the Cape Town docks, companies are working short time due to the high docking fees and this could lead to less business in the shipping industry as well.

Here are other examples:

Name of Company and Area
No of workers
Reasons for retrenchment/closure
Rhomberg electronics-M/Gardens
April 2005
Retrenchments/closure of research and development department now being done in China.
Consani Engineering-Elsies River
Retrenchments – cheaper imports from China.
Futura Projects-Bellville
Due to competition – cheaper imports
The Tool room
April 2005
Organisational restructuring
Aircontek panelling
April 2005
Prevailing market forces
How is the “Chinese Tsunami” affecting your workplace?

More suffering for Butterworth familiesJenny Grice

In deep rural Transkei at Butterworth, more than 200 workers at cutlery manufacturer, Golden Company have lost their jobs. Their company has shut down its manufacturing business and retrenched its African workforce.

In its place, “Made in China” boxes fill up the space that was once filled with the clatter of metal, machinery and more than 200 workers’ voices. Eleven Philippino workers repackage the cutlery for resale to other parts of South Africa.

When Numsa regional secretary, Irvin Jim, found a buyer that wanted to continue manufacturing, the current foreign owners said: “We don’t want to sell. We can make more money this way.”

This is not the first factory closure to hit the town. After 1994 when the government halted the previous government’s incentives, one by one, factories closed down and moved closer to their markets. Textile workers lost their jobs, metal workers lost their jobs adding to the misery of the local population. Meanwhile Golden Company workers have vowed to fight the retrenchment in court and are picketing outside their company.