3 April 2023

European social partners, for the textiles, clothing, leather, and footwear (TCLF) industries, have signed a joint declaration committing to strengthen their engagement and joint work for a positive future for both employers and workers in South East Europe, following a two day conference in Bucharest, Romania, writes Leatherbiz.



As part of an ongoing EU social dialogue project, focussing on transforming those TCLF sectors into more sustainable industries, the conference brought together over 80 delegates representing social partners, sectoral experts and other industry stakeholders.

With over 400,000 workers, the TCLF sectors in Southeast Europe are of significant importance but face increasing challenges, such as high energy costs, increasing wage pressures, an ageing workforce where there is difficulty attracting younger generations but also unfair purchasing practices carried out by brands.

The signing of the Bucharest Declaration by national and European social partners therefore marked a major step forward, with social partners committing to work together to ensure a successful green and digital transformation of the industry, harnessing growth opportunities while ensuring decent work for all.

Secretary general of leather industry body COTANCE, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, said: “The EU Social Partners of the TCLF ecosystem have done their part in mobilising their ranks in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and North Macedonia for facing the challenges of the Green Deal. Now the ball is in the camp of the Governments in these countries for supporting their industry with effective strategies complementing the EU strategy for the TCLF sector.”

During the conference, a panel discussion was held on the role of education and skills with social partners highlighting the problems of attracting and retaining skilled workers.

“The circular and digital transformation of companies can contribute to enhance the attractiveness of the sectors, in which young workers can find a modern and welcoming workplace with similar interests and values.” commented CEC’s general secretary, Carmen Arias.

TCLF is composed of the following “social partners”: trade union industrial Europe, the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), leather industry representative body the Confederation of National Association of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (COTANCE) and Euratex, otherwise known as the European Apparel and Textile Confederation.

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