TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria: Intervene in Textile Jobs Crisis, Unions Tell WTO

Sunday, 26 June 2005

Source: This Day (Lagos)

The International Con-federation of Free Trade Unions has requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to urgently examine the impact of trade liberalisation on the textile and clothing sector following the end of the quota system in December 2004.

At their executive board meeting, the organisation also took note of the struggle against job losses and poverty by the Congress of South African Unions (COSATU) and expressed its solidarity for their planned protest today.

The World Trade Organisation's liberalisation policy has posed a serious threat to the survival of the textile industry in most developing countries. since Nigeria joined the WTO and opened its borders to all manners of textile products in line with the WTO provisions, over 15,000 jobs have been lost with 100 factories closed down, according to the textile union.

"Many of our members, both in developing and developed countries, are already feeling the pain of the end of the quota system, and we are not even six months into it. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, largely in developing countries. The cost of such massive social dislocation is enormous and could have been avoided had the WTO heeded our call for a special transitional programme which would have helped countries cope," ICFTU General-Secretary Guy Ryder.

"An emergency Policy Coherence Initiative on clothing and textiles detailing some sound trade policy and funding for aid must be adopted at the up-coming WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong if we are to stem the haemorrhaging of jobs," Ryder concluded.

The President of National Union of Textile, Garment and tailoring Workers Reginald Agulana told THIS DAY that the Nigerian workers were in support of any measure adopted by the ICFTU to help developing countries regain their place in the production of textile materials.

According to him, the textile sector in Nigeria is dying fast and required urgent government and global trade unions support.

Agulana said that at present the sector was producing below 20 percent installed capacity while thousands of workers are being thrown into the labour market. More painful to the union, he said, is that Nigerian textile manufacturers control less than five percent of the West African market. Before the country joined the WTO, Nigeria had over 50 percent share of the market.

"Only a review of some of the provisions of WTO, especially as they affect the developing countries as well as local policies aimed at stemming the dumping of goods manufactured products, will save the sector,"