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Romanian garment workers get their due wage after intense campaign

A group of workers in Romania received their full-back wages at a Romanian factory (Tanex) that makes clothes for top brands including Inditex, and Holy Fashion, Ted Baker, Massimo Dutti, Lancome and Kookai have received withheld wages during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic after an intense media campaign went viral.

The apparel workers received 140 EUR, just over half of their regular monthly wage during the first months of the pandemic.

Figure: Romanian workers stitching European brands win withheld wages during COVID-19

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) network and supporters put pressure on Inditex, Holy Fashion and a UK high street brand: three companies sourcing from the Tanex garment factory. After the campaign international pressure led these brands to take workers’ responsibility to settle the violations between the management and the workers.

Officially, Romanian garment workers receive the legal minimum wage of 278 EUR – and Tanex factory workers saw their wages cut without justification during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a worker published the misjudgment on social media the factory fired her for ‘making public statements in the mass-media’, while denying the violations mentioned.

The situation of the Tanex workers is no exemption. In fashion apparel manufacturing countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, and America, garment workers are left without their full wages or severance after layoffs. And in most of the cases so-called sustainability brands canceled orders, withheld payment, or forced factories to accept discounts.

Romania, together with Italy, is leading the list of countries with most people working in garment production in the EU. An estimated 90% of the workforce are women who work in about 9000 factories for brands such as H&M, Zara and Nike. While many assume that women’s salaries are just a small part of the family income, in reality, many of these workers support entire families from their wages alone.

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