Female Factory Workers

Celebrating South Africa’s Female Factory Workers


Annually, National Women’s Month pays tribute to the women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to fight the extension of Pass Laws to women. These fearless females, who turned out in their thousands, also challenged the notion that a woman’s place is in the home and proved that it is, in fact, everywhere. Today, this is apparent at the Hisense factory in Atlantis, Western Cape, where 80% of team leaders in the TV manufacturing division are females and a significant number of women hold leadership positions in the administration department. In addition, 90% of the factory’s Surface-mount technology (SMT) and Insertion lines are female, particularly because the company has found that women are far more focused and meticulous when attending to detailed component assembly.

Hannelie Karools, a Stock Controller in the fridge manufacturing division says:  “I have always liked challenges and chose to work at the factory after serving as a shop assistant at a large retailer. I have learnt a lot over the past five years, especially in terms of communicating with different people who speak different languages and do things differently to the way I do.” Her advice to other women wanting to work in traditionally male-dominated industries is to never believe that women can’t do what men can.

Her colleague, Kaamilah Taylor, a Quality Controller in the TV division, echoes these sentiments saying: “Women can do the same things as men – sometimes even better! Don’t let men undermine you.”

“Women can do anything if we put our minds to it,” adds Office Supervisor, Shade Werth, who was one of the first females to work at the factory when it opened in 2013. She shares that, at that time, her colleagues comprised mainly of Chinese men which saw her having to overcome obstacles such as the language barrier, but slowly and steadily she has managed to surmount these. She would like to one day head up her department, leading her colleagues.

Procurement Co-ordinator, Tracey Green, believes that it is up to women to uplift themselves. “You need to give your best.” She aspires to become the manager of her department, leading and being a source of inspiration to others.

As part of its commitment to uplift female employees, Hisense offers skills development programmes accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA).  “This training means that our learning curve doesn’t stop. We are working and learning, gaining more and more skills every day,” says Green.

Ashlene Bester, a Quality Controller in the TV division, shares that although she began her career with Hisense as a means to provide for her daughter, she has learnt new skills that have not only helped her to be a better worker, but have empowered her as a woman. She began as a general worker but progressed to Quality Controller which she feels shows the company’s faith in her and her abilities. She hopes to hold a position in Hisense’s Human Resources department within the next 10 years.

Mark Dammert, Hisense South Africa’s Human Capital Development Manager, says: “Female employees strengthen our workforce and enhance the efficiency of our production. We believe that diversity delivers strength, unity and power.”

For more information, visit http://hisense.co.za

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