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2 000 textile jobs on the line

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — Nearly 2 000 workers could lose their jobs after it emerged that two textile companies are tottering on the brink of collapse.

Two textile labour unions last week told the Sunday Express that Super Knitting Textiles and Blessing Textiles might shut down at the end of the year.

The Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union (Lecawu) and Factory Workers Union (Fawu) said the two companies had already sent out a distress call.

Both unions have members in the two companies.

They say Super Knitting Textiles has already terminated contracts for workers and told Fawu that the future is bleak.

The management told Fawu that there is very little hope that the factory will reopen after Christmas. 

Super Knitting Textiles, which has about 1 000 workers, is said to have promised to give the workers their severance packages by December 15.

The company has also announced that it does not have new orders from buyers.

Fawu national organiser Sam Mokhele said the union has been in discussion with the troubled company.

“The factory management agreed to pay all workers before they close for Christmas holidays after we aired our fears the signs showed that they were unlikely to reopen next year,” Mokhele said.

He said Blessing Textiles’ situation was also precarious although the management tried to reassure the union that it will not close.

Mokhele said the company had started retrenching.

“We put it to the Blessing Textiles management that we are not new in this industry and we are able to see when a firm has financial problems,” he said.

“The management confirmed that the firm is struggling to attract orders.”

“Also the LTEA (Lesotho Textile Exporters Association) has told us that the two firms are struggling,” he added.

Daniel Maraisane, the Lecawu secretary-general, said the two firms had “serious problems that are a sure sign that their closure is looming”.

“There is a third firm which we are watching closely,” he said.

“Three firms are likely to close by the end of this year.”

Blessing Textile, which was previously called C-River Textile, will be closing for the second time if the trade unions’ fears come true.

The firm belonged to a Taiwanese, Weng Chun-Hsuan, who disappeared without paying workers in September 2007 which led to it being declared insolvent.

The High Court appointed lawyer Nkesi Makhera to liquidate it.

At the time of Chun-Hsuan’s disappearance the firm owed workers M444 000 in wages.

It had 700 employees.

It also owed the Lesotho National Development Corporation’s estate agents, JHI Estate Managers, M133 191 as it was operating at one of the corporation’s building.

Another creditor was the Water and Sewage Authority which was owed about M173 000.

Currently, Makhera is in a legal battle with the new owners and the workers for failure to complete liquidation and pay debts.

Efforts to contact management of the two firms were not successful.

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