Six textile and clothing firms in KZN participated in a year-long fast track performance improvement pilot project, to improve their overall competitiveness and ability to respond to foreign competition.
This pilot project was funded by the International Labour Organisation, the CFTL SETA, the Provincial Department of Economic Development, the Ethekweni municipality, the KZN Clothing and Textile Cluster as well as the firms themselves.
A similar project involving clothing firms in the Western Cape has also recently been completed with the ILO and CTFL SETA also being the core funders.
At the end of the project in November 07, a number of significant improvements had been achieved in the pilot areas in participating firms:
•\tTextile efficiencies averaged 85% in October 07
•\tClothing firms in the project reached efficiencies of 77% in October 07
•\tFour firms achieved quality levels of over 97% in October 07
•\tThe average attendance (excluding late coming) of all firms for the period August to October 07 was >97%
•\tProfit improvement projects yielded improvements of over R2-million
•\tThree firms achieved world class contender status in terms of their operational performance and implementation of best practices
•\tAll firms now have basic HR policies and procedures in place
Initially trained in formal problem solving techniques, the participating companies involved in the project were Frame Spinning, Zenzeleni, Zorbatex, Imraan Textiles, Capstone and Frame Weaving.
Twenty two team leaders and five internal trainers were accredited and a further 10 team leaders are being assessed for accreditation. Each firm has a trained internal facilitator who will be responsible for driving the rollout of the project internally.
In addition three new service providers were trained up as part of the project – they will now become available to support firms in the sector who wish to embark on performance improvement initiatives.
A major benefit of the programme has been the involvement of organized labour which has meant that union representatives and shop stewards have been fully involved in the firm based initiatives and have a much clearer understanding of the practical imperatives that are currently facing the industry.
The Chair of the project Steering Committee (which was made up of employer and labour representatives as well as funders), Mr. David Bowen, Director of Training at Frame Textiles, indicated that the project had been a huge success not only because of what had been achieved in terms of performance improvements but because of the changes that the project had brought about in the way that managers and team leaders approached their work and interacted with one another.
He indicated that the project had been very well supported by the consulting team from Performance Solutions Africa (PSA) and he commended the consultants for the manner in which the project had been designed and executed at each participating firm.
Mr. Bowen indicated that Frame’s various divisions had benefited enormously from the initiative and he urged other employers in the sector to join hands and take up the challenge to achieve world class performance and practices in order to sustain the industry into the future.
SACTWU’s Mr Siphiwe Ngidi emphasized the union’s wholehearted support for the project and stressed that the union recognized that in order to maintain jobs in the sector, it was essential that firms “learn to become competitive in ways that still maintain the principles of decent work”.
In total over 50 awards were made to participants in the project at the ceremony which as held at the Suncoast complex in Durban.