Blog: Tara visits Poland for WellMade project

FWF’s Tara Scally travelled to Poland last week for the WellMade project, together with Rosan van Wolveren from the verification team. She presented FWF in a bookstore and learned more on risk factors in the Polish garment industry.

“The first panel discussion took place in a café in Warsaw that can be freely translated as ‘The buzz of the world’ (see photo). Part bookstore, part café, this was a nice surrounding to talk about the topic of working conditions in the clothing industry. The event drew a big crowd, leaving all seats filled.

Also involved in the panel discussions were the Clean Clothes Campaign Poland, the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, and Karmojibi Nari (KN), a Bangladeshi organisation for women workers.
We discussed the harsh working conditions that garment factory workers face every day, the challenges of factory owners and the responsibility of brands and governments in changing the situation.

Rana Plaza
After the panel discussion a local singer/songwriter came to the stage and performed a song on Rana Plaza and social engagement in modern western society. Reason for the serie of events in Poland was the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse around which the Polish Green network organised several meetings. Simultaneously, the CCC Poland published a report on sourcing strategies of Polish brands in Bangladesh.

During the main program, taking place in Krakow, I presented the WellMade session to Polish trade unions and NGO’s, being translated for the first time. Quite a challenge, I must say!
It was really nice to hear that the guests from Bangladesh could recognise their story in the seminar and felt like it was a good representation of the reality.

Freedom of association
In between the public events we met with Polish trade unions who spoke about the challenges of implementing the labour standard freedom of association. Many factories in Poland are small workshops, but a trade union needs at least 15 members of one workshop to be able to improve conditions at that place. Besides this, most workers don’t have a legal contract but a short term civil contract, making it difficult for workers to unionise.

During the second panel discussion, the audience, mainly students, asked a great amount of in-depth questions and couldn’t wait to get their hands on a copy of the CCC report and Fair Wear Foundation flyers.

My first trip to Poland was a very interesting one. If you want to learn more on labour conditions in Poland, take a look at the recently published country study.”

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