The National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry had, at the close of business on May 4, accredited 388 manufacturers with a total fabric face mask manufacturing capacity of 13.9-million masks a week, says the council’s national chairperson, Marthie Raphael.
The bargaining council started a programme in March to accredit clothing manufacturers for fabric face mask production. This was in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the clothing and textile industry to ramp up face mask manufacturing capacity in South Africa to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
The majority of the accredited fabric face mask manufacturers are small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs).
“[On May 4] alone, our council’s Covid-19 rapid response task team approved a total of 217 micro manufacturing enterprises for accreditation as personal protection equipment (PPE) and other essential product manufacturers,” notes Raphael.
These microenterprises, which are located in all parts of South Africa, employ fewer than six people each.
They are all registered with the clothing industry bargaining council, and are mainly located in the township economy.
“In terms of our bargaining council’s decades-old rules, such microenterprises are automatically exempted from the provisions of our main collective agreement. This means that they are automatically classified as ‘compliant’ manufacturing companies,” adds Raphael.
“Part of the benefits of our accreditation certification process includes free advertising for such accredited companies on Proudly South African’s recently launched dedicated fabric face mask portal.
“We are pleased that such unprecedented advertising exposure is now also automatically available to accredited SMMEs.”
Raphael says the bargaining council has introduced its PPE accreditation process in order to prevent unethical and unhealthy manufacturing practices in fabric face mask production.
“We cannot allow that the Covid-19 crisis be exploited for mere profiteering during fabric face mask production.
“Accordingly, important parts of our accreditation criteria are the use of locally produced fabric, as well as the face mask manufacturing government guidelines as issued by the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition.”