Union denounces ban on plastic bags in South Africa

Johannesburg- South African (PANA) -- A South African trade union has disapproved an impending ban on plastic shopping bags saying the move has put several jobs on the line.
The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) says 7,000 jobs in the plastic bag manufacturing industry would be lost if the ban on the environmentally offending shopping bags is put in effect.
The South African government is in the process of outlawing thin plastic bags and has recommended much thicker re-usable ones instead.
Thickness of the bags should be increased from 18 to 80 microns, the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism says.
All over the countryside discarded plastic bags litter huge areas.
Plastic bags are blown away by the wind and collect on farm fences and thorn bushes.
Others end up in rivers and lakes.
For years, environmentalists have been lobbying for the government to do something about the plastic bag pollution.
But now the union representing workers in the plastic industry has sounded the alarm over the possibility that its members could lose jobs as a result of the ban.
"There are further implications for other related industries, for example, retail, raw material suppliers and printing that will take the job loss count to more than 71,000," said Welile Nolingo a CEPPWAWU spokesperson.
Nolingo said Tuesday that the ban would further impact on working-class and poor communities due to additional costs for packing of household goods.
CEPPWAWU believes that the impending ban is at variance with proposals made after a research into the situation.
The union said it believed that the government had "taken a short-cut in dealing with the question of pollution, in that it ignored alternative proposals such as waste recycling, which would have positive spin-offs for job creation.
"The union is calling on the government to review the decision to force the industry to move to the 80 microns without taking into account the alternatives and the effects this decision will have in the context of high unemployment and poverty.
"One of the proposals ignored by Valli Moosa, the Minister of Environment Affairs and Tourism, was that of increasing the thickness of the plastic bags from 18 to 30 microns," said Nolingo.
That alternative would have no negative consequences on the plastic bag manufacturing industry, jobs and working-class communities, he said.
CEPPWAWU has warned that failure to reverse the plastic ban could result in protest action.

04 december 2001 20:31:00

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