South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal: factory workers denied proper sanitation

Workers in many clothing and textile factories in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal are denied proper sanitation facilities, a trade union survey has found.

Workers were not supplied with toilet paper and being forced to use pieces of fabric, SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) secretary Chris Gina said. [...].

“Workers are expected to place these fabric off-cuts in bags or boxes next to the toilet… which are often only removed once a week, resulting in filthy, smelly, and unhygienic conditions,” he said in a statement.

“At almost all companies that we surveyed workers are not supplied with toilet paper.”

Factories that did supply toilet paper, made workers pay for it and deducted the costs from their weekly wages.

Workers is some factories had to make do with buckets because there were no toilets available.

“Where workers have the use of toilets, it is often totally inadequate”, Gina said. In one case, the only one toilet had to shared by almost sixty male and female employees.

Workers in some factories have to pay penalties, deducted from their wages, if they stayed in the toilet for longer than a couple of minutes.

Acting on the complaints from Sactwu about the poor sanitary conditions and other labour rights violations, a raid was conducted in twelve clothing and textile factories on 29 September 2011. The raid was led by the Department of Labour, the Department of Home Affairs, the SA Police Service and the Bargaining Council for the Clothing and Textile Sector. Labour Inspectors issued contravention notices giving employers sixty days to comply with labour laws.

Source: Sapa / Sunday Tribune, 03 Oct 2011 ; Chris Gina, SACTWU, 03 Oct 2011 ; Lloyd Ramutloa, South African Department of Labour, 29 Sep 2011

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