Blog: Fair Wear's Kees' road trip through Macedonia

FWF’s verification coordinator Kees Gootjes just came back from Macedonia. The purpose of his trip: visit 6 factories participating in FWF’s Living Wage/Productivity project.

  • Distance travelled: 943 km
  • Factories visited: 6
  • Weather seasons encountered: 3 (snow, rain, sun)
  • Pigs crossing the road: 7 (1 sow and 6 piglets)
  • Cars used: 1 Chevrolet Matiz

“Up to now, all participating factories had received a productivity assessment as well as a wage analysis. These analyses are part of an ongoing project, made possible by CNV Internationaal, where FWF works to establish a realistic method of increasing the wages of workers to living wage levels. Wage levels are inevitably tied to productivity levels. Therefore in order to create room for increased wages, everything must be done to increase productivity.

Little Speed Demon
During my factory visits and meetings with factory management, we evaluated the productivity and wage analyses that were previously conducted. Some factories were able to show that they had undertaken steps to improve productivity, such as calculating working minutes for each produced style or incentivising workers.

In between factory visits we crisscrossed the beautiful and varied Macedonian countryside in our Little Speed Demon, a surprisingly comfortable little Chevy Matiz. We had to go off-road due to a sudden, unannounced repaving of the only highway leading into Delchevo. Rounding a bend in the dirt track, we were forced to stop to allow a mother sow and her 6 piglets cross the road.

The next step
The most important purpose of the visits was to introduce participating factories to the next step of the project. This involves calculating the amount of money the factory needs, to be able to pay its workers a certain (living) wage level and converting this to working minute prices or price per product. In this way, for the first time it is possible to have an informed discussion between brands, factory management and workers representatives on what is needed to work towards living wages.

To our great satisfaction, all factories indicated a willingness to participate in this next part of the project. Once all the wage data have been collected, FWF plans to organise a meeting with participating brands, factory management and workers representatives to discuss ways to achieve progression towards living wages.”

Living Wage Engineering
Read more about living wages in FWF’s Living Wage Engineering report, about the links between outdoor industry brand practices, wages, pricing, and the cost to consumers.