TAC Electronic Newsletter

28 March 2005


TAC chairperson, Zackie Achmat, is recovering well from a heart attack

Help campaign for the Indian patent bill to be revised.

Support the Save Jobs Coalition; stop Rex Trueform from retrenching 1 000 workers.

Zackie Achmat is recovering well from heart attack

Zackie Achmat, the TAC chairperson, had a heart attack on Thursday 24 March, but he is recovering well. On the advice of his doctor and friends, he will take a month's rest. Achmat has been working long hours without a break under high stress for the last month on both TAC work and the COSATU Save Jobs Coalition. Achmat said "This is a signal that I have to start improving my lifestyle by doing more exercise and working more regular hours." Achmat's doctor, Steve Andrews said "Zackie is receiving excellent medical care and is expected to recover with rest and an adequate rehabilitation programme."

TAC asks that Zackie's privacy be respected while he recovers.


Help campaign for the Indian Patent Bill to be revised

Write to the Indian President

Indian generic drug manufacturers often supply much cheaper versions of patented medicines, making them accessible to poorer countries. For example, Indian generic manufacturers are among the leading suppliers of antiretrovirals. The new Patent Amendment Bill of 2005 threatens the supply of affordable medicines needed in the future. It also has the potential to threaten the supply of existing medicines (e.g. AZT/Lamivudine in combination). The new bill has been drafted with the objective of meeting India's commitments under the World Trade Organisation's TRIPs agreement, but it actually exceeds the requirements of TRIPs.

The Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit of India has sent a global appeal asking for organisations and people to write to President Kalam of India to urge him to send the Patent Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration. The Indian president has the power to do this.

This bill has consequences for poor people throughout the world. Please send a polite fax, email or mail to President Kalam asking him to send the bill back to Parliament. Traditional mail is best. Here are his details:

Slow mail address: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi 110004.

Email: presidentofindia@rb.nic.in

Fax 91-11-23017290/2301782


Support the Save Jobs Coalition - Jobs improves health-care

Save 1000 Rex Trueform jobs

28 March 2005

The alarming number of job losses in the clothing, textile and leather industries has lead to the formation of a national coalition of individuals and organisations to save jobs in South Africa. The TAC joins COSATU, SACTWU, the South African Council of Churches, the Economic Justice Network and the Quaker Society as a founding organisation of the coalition.

On 23rd March 2005 a rally was held to prevent the impending closure of the Rex Trueform manufacturing factory in Salt River. The impending closure will deprive another 1000 South African workers of the dignity of a basic working wage. The rally marked a call for support from all concerned, to lend their names to save the clothing, textile and leather industries from total collapse.

Unemployed South Africans live with the constant insecurity of not having enough for them and their families to eat. Many are HIV-positive and cannot access adequate medical treatment, including antiretrovirals, from their local public health facility nor can they afford to buy life-saving medicines. Having a stable job is not only fundamental to the stability of the South African economy, but to our ability to effectively manage HIV/AIDS infection and transmission in this country. Having a decent working wage is key to South Africans leading healthier lifestyles.

Clothing imports into South Africa from sweatshop economies such as China have increased dramatically in recent years. China’s repressive employment conditions allow it to produce vast volumes of garments and export them globablly at a fraction of the cost of South African factories which respect the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Retailers increase their profits by buying these Chinese goods, instead of locally produced goods. By doing so, they are shutting down South Africa’s own manufacturing industries, and putting thousands of people out of work. When enough of these industries have closed down, the South African economy will be entirely dependent on such imports of goods. We support free trade if it is based on fair competition, but competition is unfair with countries that do not respect basic labour rights.

TAC acknowledges that it is not only for workers to fight to save their jobs, but for civil society generally, including employers, schools and all religious and social groupings to help lobby government to set appropriate controls in place on the imports which destroy our local manufacturing industries.

We endorse the call on consumers to support local industries. We add the voice of TAC to call retail outlets such as Woolworths, Edgars, Truworths and Foshini to sign agreements immediately with SACTWU and COSATU to source at least 75% of their goods locally.