Initial report complaint at a factory in Vietnam supplying Outdoor & Sports Company
On 4 November 2016, a worker made a complaint that she had been working at the factory for about a year without a signed labour contract, or an employee card or health insurance card. She allegedly received payslips but couldn’t produce them for the complaints handler. The complainant claimed having been fired on 4 November, without advanced notice, and that on 5 November the worker had been told that the factory would pay the salary for October, if she agreed to work 3 days without payment.
FWFs complaint handler is currently aiming to receive evidence the worker was in fact employed by the factory. The complaint handler asked the complainant whether she could share the telephone phone numbers of her line leader, vice line leader or co-worker in order to verify that she worked at the company until 4 November.
FWF’s complaint handler called one of the complainant’s coworker who works at the factory approximately 4 months without a labour contract. The coworker informed FWF’s complaint handler she was under the impression the plaintiff was fired because she was absent for 2 days without permission (29&31 Oct). The coworker confirmed that the plaintiff has worked at the factory until 4 November, and she got fired at the end of working time.
FWF had scheduled an audit at this supplier on behalf of Outdoor & Sports in December. FWF proposed to move the audit date forward to late November. During the audit, FWF can verify the labour contracts for all workers and further investigate this case. Payday is every 15th of the month, which will allow the audit team to verify the paid wages, including the complainant’s wage payments.
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.
Final report on complaint at factory in India supplying DW-Shop
On 10 July 2016, a worker who was dismissed from the factory claimed that he had been working there since 2013. He allegedly took a one-month leave on 11 February, but did not return to his position until 9 June. Management had replaced him upon his return, and did not want to take him back. The worker accepted the dismissal, and asked manager for his full and final payment and his social security forms so he could collect social security. He was told to return two days later. The payment and the social security form did not materialise after he returned to the factory.
The worker called the FWF complaint handler again on 12 July and informed that he had been to the factory and met with management. He then said that he had been paid in full and that he had complained so hec could be reinstated.
On 13 July, DW-Shop received an email from the factory where they claimed the worker had been paid in full on 8 June, but that they were unable to rehire them.
On 15 July, FWF called the worker to verify the situation. The worker stated that he had been called by management and been offered a lump sum–lower than the sum mentioned by the factory–and made to sign a blank form. He accepted as he needed the money. He only wanted further help getting his form to collect social security payments.
Taking into account that the worker communicated to FWF that he accepted is dismissal, FWF’s impression is that it is likely that the worker was asked to sign a blank paper in exchange for a lesser amount.
As the worker was not available for further follow-up, FWF has closed the complaint. The claims regarding excessive overtime and lack of formal contracts/regular wage slips are difficult to verify without further investigation. They are however consistent with previous audit findings.
Initial report of a complaint in Tunisia at a factory supplying Bierbaum Proenen and Fristads Kansas
On 3 June 2016, a worker at a factory supplying Bierbaum Proenen and Fristad Kansas alleged that he was dismissed on illegal grounds. He had a three-month contract through an interim agency, a common practice in Tunisia.
According to the worker, he was unjustly blamed for throwing out material after cutting. Based on this allegation, the complainant was given a three-day unpaid suspension by the Consultative Committee. He refused to sign a document where he acknowledge guilt and, as a consequence, he was sent home without the possibility of working the last three weeks of his contract. He was not rehired.
According to the factory, the complainant resigned after unsuccessfully trying to cover up a mistake that he had made. He furthermore did not show up for work after his suspension period. The factory hired a new employee. The complainant, alleges factory management, returned to work until the end of his contract but in another position. He received his remaining holiday and remuneration, including annual bonus.
The case is under investigation.
Final report of complaint at factory in Tunisia supplying Nudie Jeans – May 2016
On 2 May 2016, a worker approached FWF’s complaints handler and trade union representatives. He claimed that a factory where he had been working since 2010 on temporary one-month contracts had terminated his employment.
A 2012 audit revealed that short-term contracts were a concern at that factory then already. Further, in 2014 a different complaint was taken to FWF regarding the same issue. Tunisian labour law is not clear on the matter, but stakeholders agree that this is not the intended purpose of the law.
Before FWF could open an investigation, the worker was re-hired again by the factory. He now works at the same workstation, but does night shifts. He has signed a new contract of one month.
FWF has asked the complainant whether he wished to pursue his complaint. The complainant stated that he did not wish to take further action, because he was satisfied with the outcome.
Final report of complaint in Bangladesh at factory supplying Vaude – May 2016
A worker representative currently employed by the factory contacted FWF because workers heard that the factory management was planning on relocating the factory but had not been informed about any changes. Workers feared that, if the factory relocated around the Chinese New Year, they would be unable to find the factory again and would not receive their compensation. Vaude contacted the factory, which confirmed that there were plans to move the factory. Factory management proceeded to inform the workers of the move once the new location had been confirmed, and with a month of notice. This complies with legal requirements. Since the relocation was within the same city, factory management did not have to pay compensation.
No remediation was needed because the workers have been informed about the relocation plans. FWF advised Vaude to enroll the factory a second time in a Workplace Education Programme training, to enhance dialogue between workers and management.
Final report of complaint in India at a factory supplying Nudie Jeans, Mini Rodini, Manroof and Continental – April 2016
In August 2013, two workers were asked by an engineer at the factory to repair a pipe. To reach the pipe, they climbed on a chair that collapsed. One of the workers fractured a hand. The other worker, the complainant, fractured his spine. After the accident, management paid medical expenses for both workers. The workers were allegedly asked to sign documents in Tamil, a language the complainant does not speak, and to not report the complaint with the police. In December 2013, FWF became aware of the accident, but no case for non-compliance.
In January 2016 one of the workers called the FWF line to explain that his condition had worsened and was unable to work more than 12 days a month in a different area of the factory. He could not show medical documents because they are allegedly in the hands of management. The worker himself only has an appointment letter and an identification card. Due to his health problems, the worker wants to resign and has asked management for compensation payment, which was denied.
FWF first involved Nudie Jeans, and later the other brands. After contact with the factory it was established that all medical bills had been paid so far, and the worker continued in employment during his treatment. The worker fell under the Indian Employee’s Compensation Act. This meant that the worker was entitled to compensation regardless of the insurance situation of the worker. Also, the factory should have informed the police about the accident.
The worker received outstanding compensation. From now on, the factory must ensure that workers in similar cases are compensated according to law, and notify the authorities wherever necessary. Also, workers must receive a copy of legal documents in a language they can understand.
Final report of complaint in China at factoy that supplies Expresso and Mayerline
A 58 year-old complainant claimed he was forced to quit without receiving proper severance. He was given his last due wage and informed he could no longer work because of old age. According to the factory, retirement age for male workers is 55. A month later, the complainant went back to the factory and was given 3 months of wages as compensation. The complainant considers this to be insufficient, as he had worked for the factory for 15 years. The legal retirement age in China is 60.
Further complicating the issue, in that period of time the factory relocated. From the factory’s records it seemed that it did not acknowledge the complainant’s service for the first 7 years. FWF suggested mediation, but the complainant declined as it would mean travelling back and forth between his hometown and the factory. FWF’s country representative investigated the case further by visiting factory management. While payments had been made to the complainant they were lower than the amount the complainant was entitled to. The complainant received the difference.
Another issue was the fact that documentation was often not kept, or it was not given to the workers. FWF strongly encourages the members to make sure all workers of the factory receive a copy of their contract and wage slips.
Final report of complaint in China at a factory supplying FWF member Suit Supply – January 2016
This is the report of a Complaint in China at a factory supplying Suit Supply in January 2016. It involves FWF’s Labour Standard of a legally binding employment relationship.
A worker who has worked at the cutting section of the factory for two years, claimed that the general manager requested her to do a different type of work. The new work was more complicated, and the factory allegedly wouldn’t pay more for it. The complainant says the general manager decided to terminate the complainant, because of her dissatisfaction, by asking her to prepare a resignation letter or her wages would not be paid. The complainant said that she did not want to end her employment with her factory but that if no other option is available she wants to receive severance pay.
Upon further investigation, factory management alleged that the complainant had made mistakes in the work floor, and that she was fired due to those mistakes. However, at the time of the alleged mistake, the complainant was not informed of this situation. The local office of Suit Supply visited the factory. During this visit, management agreed to pay the complainant severance pay. Later, FWF’s complaints handler was informed that the severance payment would not go through.
Normally FWF would propose a remediation meeting, but because the cost of remediation would be higher than the cost of the severance pay and in light of the complainant possibly not returning to this specific factory after Chinese New Year, it was suggested to Suit Supply that they negotiate with the factory so the management pay severance to the complainant. Suit Supply offered to pay severance to the worker directly, and this was carried out.
Final report of complaint in Bangladesh at factory that supplies Fristad Kansas & Sols – January 2016
On 13 January 2016 FWF’s local complaints handler received a complaint from 29 employees recently under suspension of the factory since 6 December 2015.
According to the complainant, factory management had allegedly misbehaved by, for example, denying access to drinking water during working hours, severe verbal abuse, unpaid overtime and unfair dismissal of a floor level management staff. No improvements were made after addressing the issues to the management. The workers decided to protest against the management in November 2015.
This case is related to the labour standards of FWF’s Code of Labour Practices ‘Payment of a living wage’, ‘Reasonable working hours’, ‘Occupational health and Safety’ and ‘Legally binding employment relationship’.
FWF informed Fristads Kansas Group and Solo Invest S.A.S about the complaint. Fristads Kansas Group discussed this case with the management of the factory during a visit in February 2016.
The factory conducted an investigation. The internal investigation showed that the complainants had stirred up unrest among the workers and damaged factory properties during a protest. The factory concluded that it was justified that the workers were fired and decided not to drop the case against the complainants. The factory was open for further investigation by FWF.
The complainants disagree with the findings of the factory management and have decided to seek justice through the local authority, labour bureau of the district government. FWF and the complainants agreed to wait for the investigation and conclusion of the local authority. At the moment no investigation is set up by FWF.