A strong condemnation of the offenses that the President of Serbia made to the workers during his visit to a construction site of a future Turkish textile factory “Eurotay” in the city of Kraljevo comes from the Clean Clothes Campaign – an alliancededicated to the improvement of working conditions in the global clothes manufacturing industry.
Clean Clothes Campaign Serbia (CCC) reminds the public that the President advised the Turkish investors to “treat our women kind and gentle”, thus assuming a role of a tutor to the women he “handed over” to other men.
The President “took working rights and conditions out of the legal frame, and left it to the good will of the employer”. The offenses don’t end there.
While addressing the Turkish investor, the President made a severely unacceptable insinuation on the account of the relationship between the employer and the female employees. He was probably unaware of the fact that sexual harassment in the workplace is a frequent problem that often goes unreported due to the fear of social stigma and fear of job loss.
Aleksandar Vučić “encouraged” the future workers in the Turkish textile factory saying that they are “aware that they wouldn’t become rich, but that they would be able to survive”. CCC reminds the public that the government is the one who attracts foreign investors with the data that wages in Serbian textile industry fall below the EU average by 85%.
The female workers in the textile industry are indeed aware that they won’t become rich, as they are of the fact that the wages the foreign investors pay them won’t keep them alive. They are most often forced to work several jobs at a time. If we take the “regular” domestic labour, most often still done by women exclusively, into account, we get the whole picture representing the circumstances of the textile workers in Serbia. The arrogancy of the President’s sexist statements accentuates this picture – CCC stated.
However, CCC doesn’t see such behavior as a coincidence. They consider that the authorities are conveying the message that everything “including the lives and bodies of women is a silent object of trade the powerful individuals and the so-called investors profit of”. As long as the population is silent, obedient, and ready to suffer humiliation from the state authorities and the employers for a monthly pay of 200 Euros.
We remind the readership that CCC published the results of it’s research showing that the textile industry in Serbia, apart from being a sector in which the workers are underpaid, is also a sector in which workers rights are frequently stepped upon.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Oct 29, 2018.