Initial report of a complaint at a factory in Vietnam supplying Jack Wolfskin and Schöffel
On 29 July 2017, FWF received a complaint from an employee who was employed at the factory until January 2017. The complainant called the helpline to address two issues. First, she resigned from the factory in December 2016 but claims the factory has not yet paid her remaining salary, even though she has contacted the factory HR personnel many times. Second, she does not understand what needs to happen to settle her social insurance book, as she is getting mixed messages from the factory and social insurance agency.
FWF decided that the case is admissible on 31 July 2017. The authenticity of this case is still under investigation.
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.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Turkey supplying Heigo, Vaude, and ClubKollektion
On 9 September 2016, FWF received a complaint from a worker who is currently employed by the factory. The complainant claimed that there are many noncompliance issues in the factory, including Turkish and Syrian workers who are unregistered, and that there is excessive overtime, especially in June, 2016, when they normally worked until midnight. The complainant also claimed that line supervisors do not receive a premium for overtime work.
FWF informed Heigo, Vaude and Klubkollection about the case, who contacted the supplier and asked for a reply. The supplier claimed that there is no unregistered Turkish worker in the factory. Two unregistered Syrian adult workers are working in the factory with the same payments as Turkish workers. The supplier wants to register the Syrian workers and he said that one of the Syrian workers is so talented that he increased his monthly wage, but his social security agent said that they cannot be registered. The supplier said that no excessive overtime occurred in the factory in June. The supplier agreed that the main problem in the factory has to do with the communication between management and line supervisors, and between line supervisors and workers. The supplier replied that FWF is welcome to conduct an inspection at any time.
Fair Wear Foundation staff offered guidance on how to register the Syrian workers, explaining the registration procedure. The supplier agreed on a date for the inspection visit: 2 February 2017. Two members of the FWF team, including the Arabic-speaking complaints handler, participated. The visit did not turn out to be a usual inspection visit although there was open dialogue on the issues raised by the complainant. The supplier also mentioned that he is willing to participate in communication training. The FWF complaints handler contacted the complainant. According to the complainant’s statements, all the problems have been solved.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Myanmar supplying Fond of Bags
On 15-16 March FWF has conducted an audit at the factory that produces for the FWF member company concerned. The following day, FWF received a call to the FWF helpline. The complainant informed FWF that he was told by his supervisor and manager that he and his wife (also working at the factory) were both terminated from the factory because they did not show up for work on Monday 17 March 2017. This followed after the complainant was sick and his wife accompanied him to the clinic.
FWF informed Fond of Bags about the case, who requested a response from the factory management. On 21 March, the General Manager informed FWF that the incident involved a team leader (male) and his wife. Both of them work in the same team. The team leader had been asked to work on the previous Sunday and was given time off the following Monday. The team leader failed to complete an urgent delivery with the team, and as a consequence the company received complaint from a customer for late delivery. Part of the reason was that the team leader’s wife had taken leave very often and this has negatively affected other workers working on the same team, thus causing the delay. When management tried to resolve the situation, the complainant allegedly threatened to assault a manager with a pair of scissors. Management dismissed him and gave his wife a warning for tardiness and disobedience.
FWF decided to conduct further research by conducting worker interviews in the factory. To this end, FWF investigation team visited the factory on 8 April 2017. Though denied by the complainant, several witnesses confirmed that they saw him chasing after the factory manager with a pair of scissors and yelling in a threatening manner. Given the seriousness of the violent action, FWF is of the view that the factory was justified in making its decision to dismiss the complainant. Compensation was paid to the complainant in line with the relevant national legislation. The complainant expressed that he accepted the situation and confirmed that he received the severance payment.
Initial report of a complaint at a factory in Vietnam supplying Deuter
On 1 July 2017, FWF received a complaint through its local complaints handler from an employee who was employed by the factory. The complainant claimed his and his co-worker’s labour contracts were illegally unilaterally terminated by the factory. The complainant wants the factory to compensate him ( and his co-worker) in accordance with Article 42 of the Labor Code.
FWF decided that the case is admissible on 1 July. The factory is an active supplier of Deuter, members of FWF. The authenticity of this complaint is still under investigation.
Initial report of a complaint at a factory in Morocco supplying Greiff
On March 26, 2017, FWF received a complaint from a worker currently employed at the factory. In October 2016 an FWF audit took place at a Moroccan supplier of Greiff. The report showed issues concerning payment of wages, social security and documentation. Greiff and the supplier had worked on remediation of these issues. On March 26, 2017, a worker contacted FWF with a complaint that contained similar issues. According to the complainant, the company stopped the payment of social security contributions to social security, actual working hours and work recorded on the pay-slip do not correspond. In addition, the time for breastfeeding is still not paid by the company, and the workers claim that there is a problem with the calculation of the income tax. Finally, workers are fined by deducting 3 working days of their salary for anyone who chews gum, speaks while working or speaks on the telephone (even when they contact family in the case of overtime).
FWF decided that the case is admissible on March 28, 2017, and informed Greiff. Greiff contacted the supplier and asked for a reply. Factory management confirmed several issues, like giving penalties to workers and the fact that workers are not free to go to the toilet. At the same time, factory management denied illegal practices concerning wages and social security. On May, 3 2017 an on-site investigation took place by the FWF local complaints handler and a documents inspector.
During the day of the investigation, management confirmed all issues raised by the complainants, which was also confirmed by worker interviews and documentation. In addition,two trainees were working on the day of the investigation. They did not earn the legal minimum wage as required by law. Also, factory management had changed the phone number of the FWF complaints handler on the FWF Code of Labour Practices posted in the factory. Following the investigation, factory management informed the FWF complaints handlers that they are setting up a production schedule with all their customers. Furthermore, they will look into the costs and set up a system of standard minutes per piece. Management will stop working hours of more than 191 hours per month. FWF submitted a list of suggestions for remediation. The case is still under remediation.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Turkey supplying Schijvens
On 12 March 2017, FWF received a complaint from a worker who was formerly employed by the factory. The complainant claimed that he/she was dismissed after refusing to work overtime until 23.00 (just on one day). The complainant said that he/she spoke to his/her supervisor and mentioned he/she had to take care of a patient at home that night and consequently could not stay for overtime work. However, the next day he/she was dismissed. He/she also has not received social security insurance coverage for the full duration of his/her employment.
On 21 March 2017, FWF informed Schijvens about the case. Schijvens contacted the supplier and asked for a reply.
The supplier states that:
1) Overtime is not compulsory, only voluntary.
2) And they mention that there are indeed workers who do not have social security but the reason behind is that the workers do not want to have it because of the unemployment benefit or the constraint on wages.
Our complaint handler talked to the complainant again to check his/her overtime hours and salary. According to the notes of the audit team members of the recent audit, the calculations at this factory were correct. After dismissal, the sole request of the complainant was to receive his/her monthly salary before the payment day. The payment was made on payment day, so this complaint can be closed.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Tunisia supplying Bierbaum Proenen
On June 9 and 10 FWF received a complaint from two workers, working for a factory supplying Bierbaum Proenen.
Allegedly, one day after a FWF audit the Tunisian manager of the factory had a meeting with workers who were interviewed during the audit and questioned them. After a dispute between manager and workers, several female workers were not allowed to work for three days, using an excuse of quality and productivity issues. For one of them work was stopped indefinitely. Above issues were backed up by signed suspension notices that were all dated a few days after the meeting took place and were for relatively light infractions. Since the meeting, workers were also asked to sign only short-term (1-3 month) labour contracts, some after having worked for more than a year without having to sign new contracts.
It seems that the signing of short-term contracts could have been used as a means to control workers and make them scared. Bierbaum-Proenen must address this issue with factory management. An active policy should be installed on appropriate and proportionate disciplinary measures at the factory. During the meeting held on November 25, factory management presented a number of steps the factory will take to prevent similar issues in the future. All workers were allowed to return to work.
FWF planned a verification audit at this factory in 2015 to check the remediation of the complaints. However the factory terminated cooperation with Bierbaum-Proenen mid 2015 which is why the verification audit did not take place.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in India supplying Odd Molly
On 28 December 2016, FWF received a complaint from a worker who recently left the factory. The complainant claimed that management informed him/her on 26th December that his/her work was no longer needed at the company. He/she was asked to sign a resignation letter in order to receive his/her final payment, but did not receive a receipt or breakdown of this payment. He/she believes that not all money owed has been paid.
FWF informed Odd Molly about the case. The factory only replied on 3rd March 2017. FWF verified the shared document (full and final payment receipt) and discussed management’s response with the complainant who had since started working at another factory and was not interested in pursuing the complaint further. The investigation revealed that overtime was likely not being paid at the proper rate.
FWF recommends the following points for remediation:
– Legal procedures must be followed in case the factory wishes to dismiss/terminate a contract.
– Overtime must always be paid at double rate. The factory should pay outstanding overtime wages to the complainant.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in Tunisia supplying Bierbaum Proenen
On 28 February 2017, FWF received a complaint from a worker that is currently employed by the factory. The complainant claimed that the factory does not pay income taxes in accordance with the tax law. Three workers were asked by the Tunisian Tax Department of the Ministry of Finance to pay an additional 400 dinars over 2016. According to the complainant, factory management refused to discuss this with the workers at first.
FWF informed Bierbaum Proenen about the case who then contacted the supplier. Factory management claimed that they were receptive of the question and tried to resolve it to the best of their abilities. After Bierbaum Proenen had contacted factory management, a meeting was held between management and the Workers Council to discuss this issue. The FWF complaints handler and the FWF documents inspector contacted factory management to inform them about current obligations under Tunisian tax law. They also advised them to organise a meeting with the tax department of the Ministry of Finance, the chartered accountant, management and worker representatives, which management subsequently did.
After discussions between factory management, worker representation, the tax department of the Ministry of Finance and the accountant, it was concluded that taxes were not correctly calculated and paid between April and July 2016. The fact that the factory had not paid the correct amount of tax to the Tunisian Tax department was due to the fact that the Tunisian tax department had not yet updated the tax form for the workers who earned less than 5000 TND in 2015 and more than 5000 TND in 2016.
A training session with the accountant and the workers was organised. Factory management agreed to ensure that taxes were correctly paid.