Trade union federation Cosatu has come out in support of trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel amid criticism over a list of clothing items allowed for sale under lockdown level 4.
This comes after the opposition DA slammed Patel and called for his sacking following the gazetting of regulations determining which clothing items can be sold.
In a statement on Wednesday morning DA trade and industry spokesperson Dean Macpherson labelled the regulations bizarre and extraordinary, and seemingly “plucked from Alice in Wonderland”.
“These new clothing regulations are frankly mad and seem more at place during the 1980s under the Soviet Union than they do in a democracy like South Africa,” said Macpherson.
But Cosatu has backed Patel and the government, saying it welcomes the list.
“The federation condemns the hysterical and childish criticism of the DA, who never misses an opportunity to grandstand and play to the gallery. They simply want to ignore the pandemic and want all the comforts that they have always had,” said Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
He said their members were unclear what clothes and footwear their factories could make and what the retail stores could sell.
“Lack of clarity is not good for workers, consumers, or businesses. The labour movement, as well as retailers and manufacturers, asked government to publish a list to clarify what is covered under the headings of winter clothes and children’s clothes.
“We asked that the list be as wide as possible so that we do not miss out garments and textiles that are needed in winter,” said Ntshalintshali.
He said the list was developed in a co-operative manner and was supported by retailers, manufacturers and workers.
“Cosatu believes this list is wide enough to get the next phase of restarting industry going and fully supports it. It will create jobs and give consumers a much wider variety of clothes to buy at stores.
“We support the decision by government to hear the voices of industry and to publish the list of clothing and home textiles. We call on the DA not to play with the lives of our people with its reckless rhetoric. They seem to want to open at all costs. Our lives matter. Worker lives matter,” added Ntshalintshali.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)