The Coalition of Textile Workers (CTW) has bemoaned the slow implementation of government interventions aimed at salvaging the almost dead industry.
The biggest challenge of the industry remains the influx of pirated and substandard textiles into the country, but the group, after years of fighting, is yet to see substantive action from the government aside from naming the policy initiatives.
In an interview with the Communication Director of the CTW, Mr Michael Anglaman, in Accra on February 28, 2020, he said there was a plan last year that contracts from government agencies such as the police, immigration and others should be given to local companies.
“So far, we have seen some action from the government where the Akosombo Textiles Limited has been given some orders from the senior high schools to print their uniforms, which we think is a good thing; but then others remain,” he said.
Mr Anglaman explained that another plan was for the government to look at having a single-entry corridor policy (Tema) for all imported textiles into the country, but that had still not been implemented.
Also, he said a committee to supervise the importation of textiles, including vetting designs to ensure exclusive rights to stakeholders, was yet to be in place.
He called on the government to speed up the implementation of the planned interventions to protect businesses in the industry.
The CTW, made up of workers of the Akosombo Textiles Limited, the Tex Styles Ghana Limited (Ghana Textiles Printing), Printex and the Volta Star, has about 2,000 people working in the sector, compared to the over 23,000 employees about three decades ago.
Meanwhile, some union leaders in the textile sector have expressed their frustration over the fact that the textile sector continued to be in distress.
The General Secretary of the Textiles, Garment and Leather Employees Union (TEGLEU) of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), a national trade union, Mr Abraham Koomson, expressed dissatisfaction over the presence of pirated local branded textiles that were still smuggled into the country and had flooded the markets.
“The challenges are still there. In fact, I’m tired of speaking about this issue because results are not showing. We have been fighting this thing for so many years and nothing happens,” he remarked during an interview on February 28, 2020.
Prior to the presentation of the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, he said the excitement of the leadership and members of the union was short-lived as a policy announcement by President Akufo-Addo in the 2019 State of the Nation’s Address to tackle issues in the textile sector did not materialise as expected.
“The industry is still as it is. There’s no change. The measures that the government promised to put in place have not been going on so still the pirating is going on,” he said.
He said there should be workable measures to address the issue, citing “the VAT-free period applied for about a year without the complementary measures to historically address the challenges facing the industry”.
He advised the youth to sit up and advocate to halt some of these issues.
It is expected that the outbreak of the Coronavirus, a large family of viruses that originated in China, will impact on the influx of pirated textiles into the market.
However, Mr Koomson said the situation had not reduced the importation of pirated textiles, noting, “The virus will not stop them so long as they continue to produce.”
Mr Anglaman on the other hand said the CTW was yet to survey the markets to ascertain the impact of the virus on imported textiles.
Ghana’s textile industry
It can be said that Ghana’s textile manufacturing companies have for the past two decades been struggling to survive due to keen foreign competition.
They have all been hit by trade liberalisation and are struggling to stand on their feet. Over 23,000 workers have over the past two decades lost their jobs.
GTP was arguably the country’s flagship textile producer and is prided with producing some of the most traditional prints in Ghana, some of which are ‘Afi bi esan’, ‘entwa woho nkyere me’, ‘subura’, ‘akyekyede akyi’, ‘sika wo ntaban’, among others.
Unfortunately, these traditional prints are now pirated in Asia (China) and smuggled into Ghana to undercut local textile companies.