President Stevo Pendarovski, today in Stip, attended and addressed the Textile Festival, which is held for the fourth time, organized by the Citizens’ Association of Textile, Leather and Shoe Workers “Glasen Tekstilec”.
This year’s event, among other things, highlights the respect for the labor rights of textile workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thank you for the honor to address you at this year’s fourth Textile Festival, organized by the Association “Glasen Tekstilec”. This is the only event of its kind in the country and the region, which contributes to raising awareness of the importance of improving workers’ rights, with a special focus on the textile, leather and shoe industries.
The pandemic brought us the huge challenge of the health crisis which penetrated into all spheres of society and changed our lives radically. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also contributed to the deepening of existing, unjustifiably long-standing inequalities in various fields and at different levels, and especially negatively affected the processing industry, such as textile and leather, where there is a significant decline in the number of employees and registered severe violations of workers’ rights.
This industry, in which over 80% of employees are women, unfortunately despite the equalization of the minimum wage with other industries, is still considered one of the industries where, compared to other industries, workers receive lower wages and face more difficult working conditions. In times of pandemic, these challenges are even more pronounced and therefore the need to open and discuss these important aspects in public and to propose solutions to improve the situation is even greater.
It is exactly where I see the importance and need of the Textile Festival, of course, in parallel with the daily engagement of civil society organizations, activists and all those who work to protect and promote workers’ rights in the country.
In the past, thanks to organizations such as Glasen Tekstilec, awareness has been raised about the need for an appropriate institutional response to the demands for greater compliance with protocols and measures for protection at work, as well as in general, for greater and consistent compliance with legislation related to the protection of workers’ rights.
The crisis caused by the pandemic is already posing major consequences for the economy. Although its further duration and development cannot be predicted at the moment, it is important to continue the efforts and demands for accountability of institutions in dealing with the flagrant violations of the Labor Law. There is a need to alert and prevent gender-based discrimination in the workplace. We must be aware that completely independent of the crisis, we must not fail in the protection of the workers in conditions of their exposure and risk in the workplace.
In this regard, it is extremely important for the institutions to be open to civil initiatives that focus on workers’ rights. Cooperation is needed between the state, business and the civil sector, in order, whenever issues relevant to the workers’ corpus of rights arise there is a debate that will offer solutions that simply must not be to the detriment of the worker.
I want to tell you that I and my associates are open to all civic initiatives aimed at improving the situation in our society, especially on issues related to basic human rights, the rights of the weaker, the rights of the weak or marginalized.
I wish you a successful debate at this Textile Festival, a fruitful discussion that will contribute to increased public awareness and finding practical, concrete solutions to the key challenges related to workers’ rights.