28 October, 2020When Tanex, a Romanian supplier for Inditex, failed to pay some of their workers in full, IndustriALL affiliate UNICONF contacted the employer, citing IndustriALL’s global framework agreement with Inditex as a way of moving forward.
Many jobs have been lost in Romania due to Covid-19, and the pandemic has also brought a widespread issue of unpaid wages. But workers are reluctant to raise the issues with unions for fear of losing their jobs.
This spring, a worker at Tanex went public after only half of her wage was paid. She was not the only worker among the 600-strong workforce in the garment factory that supplies to Spanish fashion giant Inditex that received what is called an “incomplete wage” in Romania. However, when she spoke publicly about it, Tanex fired her for talking to the media.
Dan Năstase, president of UNICONF, approached Tanex management, who was unaware of the existing global framework agreement (GFA) with Inditex and, initially, refused to allow union access to the factory.
According to the union, ahead of a visit by Inditex to the factory in June, an entire production line was sent home. The official reason was a lack of raw materials, but the union suspects that management wanted to make sure that no one would raise any issue with the delegation.
Instead the issue was discussed when the Inditex Global Union Committee met in June. Víctor Garrido general coordinator of the global union committee at Inditex, raised the issue with Inditex management and shortly after UNICONF managed to meet with Tanex.
An agreement was reached between Tanex management and UNICONF, based on the GFA and the Romanian law on social dialogue. Tanex management commits to:
- respect freedom of association
- ensure compliance with the provisions of the GFA
- inform IndustriALL, through its affiliate UNICONF, on the implementation of those provisions
Management also agreed to facilitate contacts between UNICONF and workers at the two Tanex factories in Romania. The two factories employ around 750 workers.
Dan Năstase says:
“This agreement is a good outcome considering that the labour law reform some ten years ago has severely damaged the conditions for social dialogue in Romania. We had the chance to openly discuss with Tanex management that unions are open to constructive dialogue and do not seek to destroy local industry. On the contrary, with mutually agreed tools, we can achieve positive results. Social peace can only be ensured through dialogue and unions have an active role to play."
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:
“This shows the crucial importance of a GFA, with a monitoring instrument like a global union committee to oversee workers’ rights at suppliers. It will now also be used to start organizing and we hope to see workers building their union in the workplace very soon through UNICONF’s efforts.”