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In Macedonia, wages are a key area. As the textile industry continues to shrink and unemployment increases, workers’ bargaining position worsens. FWF has been working on wage-related projects in Macedonia since early 2011. Last week, FWF’s verification coordinator Annabel Meurs presented FWF’s follow-up wage project to Macedonian stakeholders.
In 2011, FWF first piloted its Wage Ladder, funded by CNV Internationaal, in Macedonia. With the continued support of CNV, FWF is now developing an updated version of the Wage Ladder, while at the same time researching possibilities to work with factories on creating room for higher wages by increasing productivity. FWF will conduct a wage analysis and productivity assessment in five garment factories; the outcomes and recommendations will be shared during a roundtable in spring 2013.
All stakeholders consulted during last week’s visit agree that the combination of productivity increase with wage increase is the right approach: a more vital textile industry will support better conditions for those working in it.
For the first time in the Republic of Macedonia, a national legal minimum wage of 8050 denars (MKD) was established. However, a transition period of 3 years was negotiated for the textile industry, during which the minimum wage should increase from 5500 MKD to 8050 MKD in 2015. Although stakeholders are in general positive about having at least legislation they can fall back on, they are sceptic regarding the actual implementation. What’s more, estimates of a living wage range from 20.000 and 30.000 MKD – far higher than the new legal minimum wage and from the wages that are paid on the factory floor.