The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation in high street fashion retail. Throughout whole swathes of 2020, shops were closed in efforts to contain the pandemic. Meanwhile, online shopping demand has soared. It is in this context that workers’ representatives on the European Works Council of Inditex have been working with the high street fashion giant and have just published a Joint Declaration on the Strategic Plan for the Digital Transformation (also available in Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese).
Inditex is the parent company of high street fashion chains such as Zara, Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti among others and has a presence across the EU. The European Works Councils brings together workers representatives from across the company’s operations as a channel to enhance collaboration with management at a regional level.
A major focus of Inditex’s new strategic approach is on the digital transformation. The joint statement outlines the priority of maintaining employment throughout this process. Where people’s jobs are affected, notably through the closing of certain stores, the declaration commits to involving workers’ unions in their relocation via the creation of new positions nearby. The declaration also recognises the necessity of providing workers’ whose jobs are affected by the changes, with adequate training.
“The capacity of our societies to adapt to major changes depends on worker participation. It is very encouraging to see the work that workers’ representatives and management have been doing together at Inditex. Much more remains ahead but this declaration lays the foundation to leave no one behind in the digitalisation process in one of the most heavily impacted sectors. Maintaining jobs and providing training for those who need new skills is key,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
“High street fashion has been hit hard during the pandemic. It has accelerated the digital transition that was already well under way. The sudden surge in online orders has implications for the workers across the sector. Making sure that the digital transition is inclusive happens by ensuring those workers has a seat at the table when the decisions that shape their lives are being taken,” said Laila Castaldo, UNI Global Union coordinator for the European Works Council.