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After Rosan van Wolveren started as FWF’s country manager for Romania, a bunch of emails went back and forth between Amsterdam and several Romanian cities. This month she went there herself. High on the agenda: Romania’s first WEP training.
“After learning from trainings in FWF’s four priority countries, we launched our first workplace education programme (WEP) in Romania in March. The goal of the training is to make factory management and workers aware of the eight FWF labour standards and to stimulate effective communication between them.
After the meeting with one of FWF’s stakeholders, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), I got convinced that these training sessions are an effective tool to improve labour conditions in Romanian factories. By making workers aware of their rights, they can speak out about their wishes and needs in an effective way to management.
FES shared with us the negative effect of the labour legislation changes on collective bargaining. Trade unions have difficulties surviving and in most factories there is a lack of active worker representation. By speaking to workers and asking their opinion this week, I better understood FES’ concerns.
After the first training session, I experienced that knowledge functions as a first step towards improvements. It became clear that most workers were not aware of their labour rights. Most workers are taught that they don’t have rights because they are working in a private company. They don’t address their wishes because they are afraid to lose their job.
After a session about national labour legislation related to the eight FWF labour standards, workers were willing to learn more about their rights. They raised a lot of questions. Factory managers were a little skeptical at the beginning, but also happy to learn more about effective communication. They realised that they don’t take time to express their thoughts.
The workers were interested to learn more about FWF’s complaints procedures and asked a lot of questions. Their main concerns were related to safety issues and independence of the complaints system. It was good to see that the local auditors and trainers are very experienced and passionate about their work. After the first training, a complaint was passed on to a local trade union.
At the last minute I was invited at the ILO office in Budapest. I learned about the issues they face in the Balkan states and we discussed subjects related to collective bargaining and social dialogue in Romania. I could directly share the lessons learned from the first WEP training sessions.”