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Verification coordinator Annabel Meurs has just completed a visit to Timișoara and Bucharest where she observed an audit and consulted with Romanian stakeholders.
It was valuable to spend time with the Romanian audit team to strengthen the relationship and learn more about the common issues the audit team encounters. The visit resulted in many new updates from stakeholders regarding the latest developments in the Romanian garment industry, particularly given the many changes in local legislation. Romania currently has a transitional government; stakeholders expect many more changes after elections at the end of this year.
Romania continues to implement EU and local regulations that support better working conditions in the garment industry. All factories were privatized following the end of Communism, a process that began with the garment industry. However, the challenge remains to build an infrastructure at factory level that allows for full and reliable enforcement of labour regulations.
As a result of the global economic crisis, the share of Romania’s exports made up by textile, clothing and leather products dropped. According to stakeholders, the garment industry adopted new forms of production, such as working with home-workers as a method to accommodate low production orders. It is estimated that there are around 9000 production facilities in Romania, of which at least 60% are companies with less than 10 employees. In the small-sized factories, unions are not required by local regulations. Other factories continue to use the Lohn system, where the buyer supplies all the necessary materials to the producer, who only provides the labour and the workplace.
Stakeholders also report that the labour inspectorate, which is empowered to check on issues like validity of labour contracts and health & safety compliance, has been cut, causing concern about how well compliance with regulations can be enforced.
Since the signing of the agreement between trade unions and business associations in 2007, working relations are in general efficient. Overtime is still a general concern in the garment industry, as well as low wages. The development of living wage estimates is being complicated by changes in the tax code and economic instability.
For more information, please download the FWF 2012 Strategic Plan for Romania.