JEFF Rudin (Heartless attitudes, Letters, February 1) asserts that the Centre for Development and Enterprise’s latest report on job destruction in the clothing industry is "cynical" and "heartless".

Why is massive unemployment a fairer situation, less "heartless" than working albeit for low wages?

High wages impoverish those who lose their jobs when the labour minister extends such wages to workers and factories that are not party to the Bargaining Council. These factories operate on very tight margins because they must compete with businesses in Lesotho, China and Bangladesh. Why is it better for low-wage factories to move to other countries while millions of South Africans desperately need and want jobs?

Newcastle is an area with an unemployment rate of nearly 40%, according to the latest census.

The workers who choose to work in low-wage factories are taking a job as the best option available to them. In employment they learn skills of many kinds and in some factories can earn productivity bonuses; in time, some move to higher-paying factories.

Whenever jobs are on offer in SA they are vastly oversubscribed. More than 100,000 job seekers responded to Tshwane police advertising 1,000 jobs at the start of this year. Thirty learner fire-fighter positions advertised by eThekwini municipality in September last year drew an estimated 10,000 job-seekers.

I would challenge your correspondent and the politicians who promote a growth strategy for SA that necessitates job destruction in low-wage sectors to go to Newcastle. Try and make the case to the workers (mainly women) in these factories as to why they should lose their jobs when there is no other employment available.

Millions of jobs are moving out of China as wages and costs rise. Instead of attacking factories that can compete globally and regionally, SA should encourage entrepreneurs and expand our low-wage clothing sector. Opportunities to supply growing economies in Africa are opening up.

Why do the proponents of current policy want other African countries to get these jobs?

Ann Bernstein

Centre for Development and Enterprise