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.