A new report has been published highlighting the low pay and poor conditions of leather footwear workers producing shoes in Europe. Consumers may assume a ‘Made in Europe’ tag guarantees decent conditions for workers, but this report shows the exploitation of workers stitching luxury shoes.
‘Labour on a shoestring’ uncovers the conditions of workers in Europe’s shoe manufacturing peripheries in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Tens of thousands of workers are producing shoes sold as ‘Italian’ or ‘German’;and often earning even less than their counterparts in China. This report from the Change Your Shoes campaign explains central Europe’s dependency on cheap labour in the East, and the destructive ‘outward processing trade’ system that delivers fast turnaround order assembly at a fraction of the price of central European wages.
Furthermore, homeworkers stitching the uppers of leather shoes in Eastern Europe are even less visible than these factory workers, and likely to be on even lower wages. You can read about the situation for homeworkers in Bulgaria stitching shoes for German and Italian companies in the About Us/ Global Organising/ Europe section of this website.