Minister spells out challenges

ECONOMIC Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says clothing workers and bosses need a new "social partnership" to keep factories running during the recession.

ECONOMIC Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says clothing workers and bosses need a new "social partnership" to keep factories running during the recession.

Patel was speakingyesterday at the Clothing Industry Bargaining Council's AGM in Cape Town.

He said clothing workers would have to address absenteeism and productivity.

If South Africa did not keep its factories running "we have the danger of becoming the hewers of wood and drawers of water in the global economy", he said.

More than 7300 clothing workers have lost their jobs over the past year because of the recession.

"The realities are that we cannot compete on absolute wage costs with China. The reality is we cannot have industrial subsidies for the industry . where you are on permanent life support from government."

Patel promised more action from the government on illegally imported clothing.

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