Thursday, July 05, 2007

U.S. Trade Union Joins Forces With Sactwu

U.S. Trade Union Joins Forces With Sactwu

Business Day (Johannesburg).4 July 2007
By Chris Van Gass.Cape Town .

A major U.S. trade union is to join forces with the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) in a move which could see "significant" investment in SA and elsewhere, a media briefing attended by Hollywood superstar Danny Glover was told yesterday.

Glover, who represents U.S. lobby group, the Trans-Africa Forum, and Bruce Raynor, president of the Unite Here union, Sactwu's U.S. sister trade union, are in the country to identify opportunities that can assist the U.S. groups to promote social development in SA.

The unions would also promote South African clothing and textile goods in the U.S. , particularly since SA had fair labour standards, which complied with the investment strategy of the U.S. trade union.

Raynor, who is also chairman of the $5bn union-owned Amalgamated Bank in New York, said he was in SA to investigate investment opportunities for pension fund investments.

The bank had $7bn of pension fund investments in its portfolio and "substantial" amounts of money were available for further investment.

He said that 10%-20% of the bank's investment capital was earmarked for global markets with productive economies, and SA was one of the targeted areas.

Raynor said that what was also needed was a collaboration with Sactwu to take the message to U.S. consumers supporting the "largest retail market in the world for apparel textiles", that goods sold in the U.S. should be made in countries where "fair labour standards are applied and workers are treated respectfully".

He said part of Glover's and the unions' power lay in their ability to appeal to the American public on issues of workers' rights.

What was needed, he said, was to learn to exercise "some influence" over the buying decisions of U.S. consumers to get to the heart of American retailers, and change the behaviour of the retailers to make "sourcing decisions which make sense".

Raynor also said that once a new U.S. president was elected there was a "good chance" for a more equitable African Growth and Development Act to be passed by congress.

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