Combined call to Bangladeshi government for wage increase

date: 09/08/2018

Fair Wear Foundation and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile wrote a combined letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. In the letter, the two organisations urged the government of Bangladesh to show leadership and ensure a fair and negotiated increase of the minimum wage for the garment industry and take the collective demand of workers and unions into account.

‘Together, our business members buy hundreds of millions of dollars of products from Bangladesh,’ the letter read, ‘and many of our members have contributed significantly to the successful growth of the textile industry in your country. For Bangladesh to continue having a successful textile industry, the lives of the workers will have to improve.’  As the current minimum wage in the garment sector is BDT 5,300 (EUR 60 per month), Bangladeshi workers have one of the lowest minimum wages in the world.

Large voice
For wages to increase, the letter detailed that workers and their representatives need to be allowed to campaign for higher minimum wages without consequences. They also need their collective demands on minimum wages to be heard. In FWF’s Code of Labour Practices, the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is one of the eight codes member brands commit to as FWF members.

Bangladesh is one of the largest producing countries for the world’s clothing and shoes. It is also a country struggling to meet a living wage for its millions of garment factory workers. FWF believes that member brands producing in Bangladesh can have a large voice in demanding increased wages for the workers who make their clothes.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

FWF members sign Indonesian FoA protocol

date: 21/12/2017

On Friday, FWF members Haglöfs, Kjus and SuitSupply signed the FoA Protocol in Jakarta. The protocol is a groundbreaking agreement between clothing brands, factories and trade unions to strengthen workers’ rights in Indonesia.

The FoA Protocol is quite a pragmatic guideline for how factories and trade unions can effectively work together on better labour conditions. The signatory brands have committed themselves to encouraging their suppliers in Indonesia to implement the protocol. This means, for example, that a factory-level bipartite committee and a CBA process must be either set up or maintained.

Involving brands
The FoA Protocol arose through bottom-up negotiation by national trade unions—actively supported by FWF partners CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV —and brands sourcing in Indonesia. FWF is convinced that brands taking on an active role in facilitating factory-level social dialogue empowers both management and trade unions to negotiate more effectively.

FWF’s country manager for Indonesia, Kees Gootjes: ‘I am very happy that FWF brands show their commitment to Freedom of Association and factory-level social dialogue in particular, strengthening an existing initiative and showing that brands can actively contribute to better working conditions!’

Independent review indicated that workers at suppliers where the protocol was implemented believed they were better able to achieve positive changes on the factory floor. Factory-level trade unions felt that the protocol enabled them to stand up more for their rights. The protocol has provided brands with an opportunity to manage labour issues more effectively.

Live feed
The three FWF brands signed the FoA Protocol during a multi-stakeholder seminar in Jakarta by means of a satellite live feed from their offices in The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. At this seminar, more than 50 participants from the government, employers’ organisations, trade unions and labour NGOs discussed the Indonesian garment industry.

Freedom of Association and social dialogue are issues that are difficult to address, even for FWF members. It is a significant step that FWF brands have chosen to sign the FoA Protocol. They are the first brands to join the protocol since the original six in 2011, which included Nike, Puma and Adidas.

Indonesian garment industry
Indonesia is one of the top 10 garment-producing countries in the world, and has maintained a market share of 1-2% in the global garment manufacturing industry. The garment sector has recently grown after a few years of relative decline. More than two million workers are active in the Indonesian garment industry, comprising approximately 20% of the total manufacturing industry.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Myanmar Complaint Jack Wolfskin, Odlo October 2016

date: 30/11/2017
Final report of complaint at a factory in Myanmar where Jack Wolfskin and Odlo are sourcing – November 2017

In October 2016, Jack Wolfskin received information that two union leaders had been unlawfully dismissed in September of that year. The union believed that their attempts at starting a union at the factory was the main reason for dismissal. A complaint was filed against the factory with the Twonship Arbitration Body for mediation. When these efforts failed, the case was referred to the regional Arbitration Body. By November, FWF was approached by workers with the complaint that about 15 workers had been pressured to resign for their ties or sympathies with the union.

On 21 November, the regional Arbitration Body ruled that the factory is to reinstate the two workers. On the same day, factory management confirmed its agreement to reinstate the two union leaders immediately, and pay full compensation for the period that they had been dismissed, as well as an investigation into the dismissal of the other 15 workers.

While the investigation was taking place, the two union leaders decided not to accept their reinstatement in solidarity with the rest of the workers that had been dismissed. As the 2 workers were not reinstated, the Ministry of Labour sued the factory for not complying with the Arbitration Council decision of 21 November 2016.

By January 2017, the investigation showed that some, though not all, of the workers had been pressured to resign.

Later, in July 2017, FWF received a further complaint about the inability of workers to form a union. This had less to do with legal requirements than with misconceptions and lack of communication between factory management, union leaders and workers.

On 22 September 2017, after the factory had improved its approach to worker organisation and representation, FWF brokered a meeting between the two union leaders and factory management. Workers and factory management requested that FWF facilitates the meeting, and recognise FWF as an independent party.

By 10 October 2017 all workers had been reinstated. Most workers were satisfied with the outcome and with improvements at the factory level regarding representation. However, further monitoring of freedom of association may be necessary at the factory.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Tunisia Complaint Bierbaum Proenen July 2017

date: 13/08/2017
Complaint at a factory in Tunisia where Bierbaum Proenen has production – Initial Report

On 21 July, 2017, a worker currently employed by a factory where FWF member Bierbaum Proenen has production claimed that management had refused to increase wages according to the new directive by the Tunisian government. Also, that after some pieces disappeared from the work floor and were later discovered, management launched an investigation that included searching workers. Allegedly, if workers refused, they would get their pay docked. A worker who tried to negotiate with management on behalf of all workers was suspended after a heated discussion on the matter. After the discussion, factory management immediately contacted FWF and gave its version of events.

The complaint is under investigation.


Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Myanmar Complaint Jack Wolfskin, Salewa & Dynafit Aug. 2016 Final Report

date: 01/08/2017
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Myanmar supplying Jack Wolfskin, Salewa & Dynafit

On 16 August 2016, FWF received a complaint from the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM). A previous complaint case resulted in the successful reinstatement of 24 dismissed workers.
Following this, FWF received reports that one of the 24 reinstated workers, a union leader, was again dismissed on 20 June. The worker, supported by CTUM, contested the legality of his dismissal and demanded his immediate reinstatement.

FWF decided that the case was admissible on 17 September 2016. Jack Wolfskin and Salewa & Dynafit immediately contacted the supplier and asked for a response. Through a number of communications, FWF established that the worker was in fact dismissed on 20 June 2016. The supplier justified the dismissal by claiming that this worker refused to agree to the terms for reinstated workers. The worker felt that his dismissal was unfair and fueled by his union membership. With the support of CTUM, he filed a complaint at the Arbitration Body, which ruled that the factory must accept the worker back with full back pay. The factory did not agree and appealed this decision to the Arbitration Council, and this case was eventually sent to the Supreme Court.

On 18 November 2016, FWF facilitated a meeting between the factory, CTUM and the worker. After management proposed certain terms for reinstatement, the worker and CTUM made it clear that they could not agree to these. In January 2017, the factory was informed that the Labour Department was going to sue the factory for refusing to heed the previous decision from the Arbitration Council to reinstate the worker. Factory management and the worker appeared in court. The court ruled that the factory had to pay a fine, as well as compensation to the worker.

Following the court order, the factory made the payment for the fine and the compensation directly to the court. CTUM indicated that it was not satisfied with the conclusion of this case. The worker felt he had no other choice than to accept the compensation and try to move on.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Bangladesh Complaint Takko April 2017 2

date: 20/06/2017

The case was first reported by some anonymous workers in February 2017. It was followed up by National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), a member of IndustriAll in April. NGWF in April contacted FWF and provided a list of factories where they have received complaints on unfair dismissal. FWF found out that two factories in the list were active suppliers of Takko Fashion. NGWF believed that the dismissal was linked to the workers’ effort to organise in Ashulia in December 2016.

FWF had requested Takko Fashion in March 2017 to gather information from the factory. Takko contacted the factory and replied to FWF immediately. The factory claimed that no worker from the factory has participated in the strike outside in December. The workers reported to work on 18 and 19 December but refrained working on both days. The factory was later closed mandatory by the government together with another 58 factories. The factory reopened on 25 December 2016 and all workers went back to work. According to the management, the workers were not punished.
FWF is in the process of verifying the above statement from factory management.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Bangladesh complaint Takko April 2017

date: 20/06/2017
Initial report of a complaint at a factory in Bangladesh supplying Takko Fashion

The case was first reported by some anonymous workers in February 2017. It was followed up by National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), a member of IndustriAll in April. NGWF in April contacted FWF and provided a list of factories where they have received complaints on unfair dismissal. FWF found out that two factories in the list were active suppliers of Takko Fashion.

NGWF believed that the dismissal was linked to the workers’ effort to organise in Ashulia in December 2016.

Takko contacted the factory and replied to FWF immediately. The factory confirmed that 141 workers went on strike during December 2016. On 22 December the factory issued a show cause and suspension letter to 141 workers, as the factory believed that the workers’ action was against the labour law 2006 23(4). The workers filed a complaint to BGMEA. A negotiation meeting was organised on 10 January at BGEMA office. After the meeting, a settlement was made. All workers but three had collected their dues. The factory informed Takko fashion that three workers did not show up at the factory to get their settlements.

FWF is in the process of verifying the above statement from factory management.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Vietnam version of FWF Formula now online

date: 13/01/2017

FWF is pleased to announce that the Vietnamese version of the Fair Wear Formula film is now available online


Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

Myanmar Complaint Jack Wolfskin Salewa November 2016

date: 01/12/2016

Final report of complaint involving Jack Wolfskin and Salewa in Myanmar

In September 2015, the Worker Rights Consortium contacted Jack Wolfskin to report that a factory where the company has production had, without notice, dismissed 204 of its 1332 workers, including the union leadership, at the beginning of the month and without previous notice. This was derived from a report by CTUM, the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar.

Jack Wolfskin and Salewa & Dynafit immediately contacted the supplier and asked for a response. Factory Management indicated that, in order to keep the factory in business, rather than shutting down altogether and having to lay off all 1,400 workers, the factory has no alternative than down-sizing the factory by dismissing 203 poor-performance workers. This was done after consultation with several local agencies, and severance compensation was provided.

Most of the dismissed workers (161) accepted to collect severance pay. Only 43 workers did not agree to receive this compensation as they believed that it was not fair to them and they wanted to be reinstated.

The case was brought to the Labor Department and Arbitration Court to judge, and the Arbitration Court ruled on the matter. Nevertheless 24 workers still appealed the dismissal and wanted to be reinstated. The factory refused citing reputation reasons.

In April 2016, after a call facilitated by FWF, the 24 workers were allowed to return to work at the factory, under a number of conditions.

CTUM confirmed, on behalf of the factory union, that the case of the 24 workers was resolved satisfactorily. CTUM, however, maintained that it is still seeking a solution for the second group of 104 workers that were dismissed. Again, for the sake of clarify, this will be reported upon in a separate complaints report.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link

India Complaint Nudie Jeans August 2016

date: 17/11/2016
Intermediate report of complaint in India at a factory supplying Nudie Jeans – August 2016

Between May 2015 and July 2016,  8 workers were dismissed or terminated by the factory. Six of them approached FWF with a complaint between January and July 2016.

The complainants claim that they were dismissed for small violations such as engaging in verbal conflict with co-workers. They claim that they were unable to defend themselves from the allegations, and that the disciplinary action did not follow formal legal procedures.

They further allege that the real reasons they were dismissed from their job was that they had supposedly engaged in unionisation efforts, or that they frequently refused to work overtime after 18:00.

During investigation, already in January 2016, FWF was unable to reach a conclusion, as management claimed workers left on their own volition. The first complaint was closed, but other workers came forward in July 2016, sharing similar stories.

Upon further investigation in July, a pattern of common issues was found, including lack of legal domestic enquiry and lack of opportunity for workers to defend themselves.

FWF required Nudie Jeans to discuss these and other findings with management, to ensure that all cases are re-assessed and structural findings remediated.

FWF will contact all workers at a later stage to verify whether their cases were re-assessed and solved in a legally compliant manner. FWF will conduct a verification audit in 2017 to assess whether structural remediation steps have been implemented.

Share this on

FacebookTwitterLinkedInWhatsAppEmailCopy link