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RugbyU: S.African union slams Chinese-made rugby jerseys

Published on 06/09/2011

South African labour unions Tuesday demanded that the national rugby federation apologise for importing Springbok jerseys from China in the run-up to the World Cup.

But the South African Rugby Union (Saru) brushed off the complaint, insisting that most jerseys were locally made.

“The majority of these products are produced in South Africa and we are firmly committed to increasing the local manufacturing component of such products in the future,” Saru said in a statement.

South Africa has lost about half of its textiles jobs since 2000, while imports have steadily risen — a trend the industry ministry has blamed on a volatile local currency, illegal imports and a shortage of skilled labour.

Cosatu, the powerful labour federation that includes textile workers in its ranks, called the import of green and yellow shirts from China a “scandal”.

Spokesman Tony Ehrenreich said Cosatu wants a commitment from Saru to produce more jerseys locally and to apologise to workers for not supporting “proudly South African production”, the Sapa news agency said.

Job losses are a major political issue in South Africa, where unemployment officially runs around 25 percent but is really far higher as many people have given up searching for jobs and are no longer counted in the labour survey.