South African Rugby Union under fire for not sourcing locally

8 September 2011

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8 September 2011 | Helen Gilbert

Just days before the World Cup kicks off, workers unions in South Africa have called on the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to prove it uses local suppliers.

The national rugby federation was criticised by unions earlier this week after it emerged that some of its green and yellow garments had been imported from a Chinese company.

SARU insisted that the majority of jerseys were made locally but now the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) is demanding an independent review to substantiate the claims, arguing that the evidence on the shelves proves otherwise.

“We challenge SARU to subject their claim to an independent audit,” a statement issued by Andrew Kriel, general secretary read. “This will once and for all empirically expose the truth.”

The plea comes a day after The Congress of Southern African TradeUnions (COSATU) called on SARU to issue an apology to workers and the country for not “supporting proudly South African production”.

COSATU blasted the outsourcing as a “scandal”. It added: “We remain loyal supporters of the national team, but this act does dampen our enthusiasm, as workers are the losers by SARU actions. We are further calling on SARU to give an undertaking that a special arrangement will be made to manufacture locally made supporters clothes by Friday 9 September 2011.”

The union said it would protest against SARU during the World Cup, which starts in New Zealand tomorrow, unless its demands were met. A SARU spokesman would not be drawn on whether the organisation would consider conducting an audit but insisted a ‘significant percentage’ of its supporter wear is sourced from local manufacturers.

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

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