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Workers and Social Upgrading in “Fast Fashion”: The Case of the Apparel Industry in Morocco and Romania PowerPoint Presentation
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Leonhard Plank, Vienna University of Technology Arianna Rossi, ILO/IFC Better Work Programme Cornelia Staritz, Austrian Research Foundation for International Development Better Work Conference Workers, Businesses and Government: Understanding Labour Compliance in Global Supply Chains

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Workers and Social Upgrading in “Fast Fashion”: The Case of the Apparel Industry in Morocco and Romania


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    1. Leonhard Plank, Vienna University of TechnologyArianna Rossi, ILO/IFC Better Work ProgrammeCornelia Staritz, Austrian Research Foundation for International Development Better Work Conference Workers, Businesses and Government: Understanding Labour Compliance in Global Supply Chains 26–28 October 2011 Workers and Social Upgradingin “Fast Fashion”:The Case of the Apparel Industry in Morocco and Romania

    2. How does integration into fast fashion apparel GPNs impact on workers and social upgrading? • Focus on “Greater Europe”: Morocco and Romania • Methodology: primary and secondary data • Overview: • Social upgrading in GPNs • Apparel industry in Greater Europe, Morocco and Romania • Social upgrading in Morocco and Romania • Conclusions and recommendations Research Focus

    3. Social upgrading • Measurable standards • Enabling rights • Mixed evidence on social dimensions of global production on developing country firms and workers • New employment opportunities • ‘Low road’ comparative advantage • Commercial pressures on costs, lead times, flexibility, responsiveness and high quality may hinder social upgrading • Potentially contradictory pressures are pronounced in fast fashion segment in apparel industry Social upgrading in GPNs

    4. Macro-regional integration: Outward Processing Trade (OPT), EU accession, Euro-Mediterranean Partnership • Increasing importance of time factors and emergence of fast fashion dynamics • EU buyers involvement based on geographical location, cultural affinity, historical factors, national industry pressures, existing structures and business contacts • MFA phase out and global economic crisis • Importance of labour compliance in response to civil society pressures Apparel industry in Greater Europe

    5. Important role in economy and employment generation Importance of EU-15 market and fast fashion Role of OPT and specific division of labour (apparel/textiles) Largely locally owned SMEs Mostly CMT production Functional (finishing), product and process upgrading Differences: legacy of state socialism, recent development (6% versus -6% post-MFA), unit values, importance of fast fashion buyers, end markets Apparel industry in Morocco and Romania

    6. Similarities: • Co-existence of different types of workers: • Regular/Core firm workers maintain skills and workforce stability and secure quality, consistence and reliability • Irregular/Subcontracting firm workers cope with cost and flexibility pressures • Different social upgrading outcomes with regard to type of workers and the dimensions of social upgrading related to prevailing business dynamics • Differences: local institutional structures and regulatory contexts • Morocco: labour code, limited unionization, industry-wide code of conduct (Fibre Citoyenne) • Romania: socialist legacy, national labour codes and inspections, trade unions, EU accession Social upgrading in Morocco and Romania

    7. Socialupgrading in Morocco and Romania

    8. Fast fashion buyers’ purchasing practices have a clear impact on social upgrading trajectories Social upgrading has been selective with regard to both the dimension of social upgrading and the type of worker Buyers’ CSR demands exacerbate the existence of a parallel workforce if they are not aligned with purchasing practices Local institutional structures and regulatory contexts may mitigate fast fashion pressures on regular and core firm workers, but struggle to reach irregular/subcontracted workers Conclusions

    9. Buyers: • Align CSR with core business and sourcing practices • Broaden CSR scope to workers as social actors with enabling rights • Engage with local stakeholders • Suppliers: • Reduce dependencies and diversify buyers and markets • Role of industry associations and industry-wide initiatives • Governments: • Focus on systemic competitiveness and combine skill development, economic and social upgrading • Trade unions: • Develop mechanisms to reach out to regular/core and irregular/subcontracted workers Recommendations

    10. Many thanks! Arianna Rossi: rossi@ilo.org Leonhard Plank: leonhard.plank@tuwien.ac.at Cornelia Staritz: c.staritz@oefse.at