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.
Interim report of a complaint at a factory in India supplying Takko
On 8 January 2017, FWF received a complaint from a former worker at the factory. The complainant claimed that a line supervisor in the sewing department is verbally abusing workers. Takko sent their audit team to the factory for an investigation on 11 January, which included off-site and on-site interviews. As several complaints had been received from the same supplier, FWF decided to conduct a verification audit on 2 and 3 February.
FWF concludes that there has been inappropriate behavior by at least one supervisor, but it seems that the person has resigned. Management has undertaken efforts to ensure that supervisors are not verbally abusive.
FWF concludes that the Internal Complaints Committee is in place, but not fully functional as not all members are democratically elected and formally no external representative is part of the committee. However, is clear that the factory has made efforts to establish a committee.
FWF recommends that the factory conduct an election to ensure all committee members are democratically elected by workers instead of selected by management. Workers must be actively informed about the committee and other available grievance procedures as well as anti-harassment in general. FWF will verify progress on remediation steps at the next audit. FWF recommends Takko to follow-up with its own audit team in the meantime to validate improvements.
Interim Report of a complaint at a factory in India supplying Takko
On 25 October 2016, FWF received a complaint from an employee currently employed at the factory. The complainant claimed that overtime salaries were not paid correctly, that bonus payments are different for workers that have been with the factory for different lengths of time, and that the transport provided by the factory has changed its route. Workers are now dropped off 2 km away from their hometown.
FWF decided that the case is admissible on 28 October. Takko’s local audit team conducted an investigation on 11 November 2016. In addition, a FWF verification audit was conducted in February 2017.
Both the Takko investigation as well as the FWF verification audit confirmed that overtime hours are within legal limits and are always paid at double rate. The factory has a three-tiered model for bonuses that follows legislation and is understood by all workers. The investigation concluded that the factory had merged two bus routes, and that the larger bus could not travel down the narrow road to two workers’ homes. They are dropped off 500 m away, in a well-lit area.
FWF recommends remediation steps for the organisation of worker committees and the process for raising grievances with this committee. The bonus structure should be negotiated with worker representatives and the CBA adapted accordingly. FWF will verify progress on remediation steps at the next audit.
Final Report of a Complaint at a factory in Romania supplying Living Crafts, Bierbaum Proenen & Hess Natur
On 7 November 2016, FWF received a complaint from a worker that was (at the time) employed at the factory. The complainant stated that production targets lead to pressure and stress in the factory. According to the complainant, workers were requested to work on Saturdays. Workers were asked one week beforehand if they could work on Saturdays. The complainant stated that overtime records, annual leaves and payment of their bonuses were not always clearly presented on their pay slips which make it difficult to understand on what their wages are based on.
FWF decided that the case is admissible on 24 November 2016. Hess Natur had planned an audit with a FWF audit team for 23 and 24 November. The audit conducted by a FWF team concluded that workers perform overtime hours on Saturdays within legal limits. Wage records do represent overtime hours, annual leaves and bonuses. Salary calculations and administration of attendance lists, pay slips and so on is done internally.
FWF’s complaints handler spoke to the complainant on 24 November. The wage record of the complainant was not accurate for specific months when the complainant was in medical leave. However, there was some discrepancy on the conditions of this medical leave, and the complainant’s statements on this matter could not be verified. In October 2016 the individual wage record of the complainant revealed that the complainant was not paid the productivity bonus for the whole month, and not for the 4 days of medical leave. According to the complainant he/she was not informed about this deduction. The complainant resigned and the complaint was closed before this issue was assessed further/with factory management.
FWF recommends all FWF Members sourcing in the factory, to investigate how the production planning set by the German mother company has an impact on the production pressure in the factory. With regard to stress at work, the current situation should be further assessed, root causes analysed and improvements agreed upon. The complaints handler has connected the complainant to local organisations that supported the former worker to resolve the individual complaint. FWF will verify the follow-up of the remediation during the next Brand Performance Checks of the FWF Member.
Final report of a complaint at a factory in India supplying Nudie Jeans, Manroof, Continental Clothing & Epona
On 2 February 2017, FWF received a complaint from a worker who is currently employed by the factory. The complainant claimed that a number of workers including himself/herself did not receive annual bonus payments during Diwali, and that 80 to 90 recently joined workers from Bihar stopped working in protest of delayed wage payments (around 31st January). Management informed workers that they will pay the full payment to their bank account once these have been set up. The complainant also shared that (s)he tried to address these issues with HR management, who refused to take it up and used abusive language.
FWF informed involved member brands about the case on 6 February 2017. Members contacted the suppliers and received some clarification. In addition, two FWF worker interviewers interviewed 18 workers outside the factory and, on 10 March, a FWF worker interviewer and document inspector discussed the findings with management and reviewed relevant documents.
In conclusion, no non-compliances related to bonus payments could be confirmed. Since FWF could not confirm the non-compliances that were raised in the complaint, no remediation points result from this complaint investigation. FWF recommends employing a Hindi speaking person in the HR department to reduce communication gaps.
FINAL REPORT OF COMPLAINT AT A FACTORY IN India SUPPLYING Nudie jeans
On 27 and 28 October 2016, Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) received separate complaints from three workers currently employed by the factory. The complainants claimed that all employees had to work overtime. However, overtime payments were delayed for a month and sometimes up to three or four months. Other complaints were that bonus payments were also often delayed and that the bathrooms were normally dirty, and that having migrant workers in the factory meant that a language barrier prevented many workers from expressing grievances.
Nudie Jeans asked their supplier about a response to the complaint, which was forwarded to FWF. As a FWF audit had already been planned an audit for 24th and 25th November, the audit was used as an opportunity to investigate further. After this, FWF called the complaints to confirm whether they had received all pending payments.
FWF confirmed that all payments had been settled at the time of the audit. The audit could not confirm excessive overtime hours or forced overtime. While toilet facilities were clean during the audit, interviewed workers confirmed that they are generally not well kept. FWF was unable to verify whether the complainants resigned (as documents by the factory suggest) or whether they were dismissed and forced to sign a resignation letter (as claimed by the complainants).
In terms of remediation, the factory needs to ensure that policies for all relevant procedures like bonus calculation, leave resignation etc. are clearly documented, communicated to workers in a language they can understand and applied by staff according to Indian legislation. All payments must be paid on time at all times. The brand should clarify continuously whether the factory is able to do this. The factory should also set up functioning communication and grievance channels that are also accessible to migrant workers.
FWF verified that the individual complainants had received their pending payments and that all pending payments for other workers had been settled. Nudie Jeans asked FWF to facilitate mediation meetings between the workers and management. As a result of this process, management agreed to pay additional compensation to the workers in June 2017. FWF verified the receipt of this payment as well.
Final report of a complaint in Morocco at a supplier for FWF member ALBIRO – December 2016
On 27 May 2016, a worker currently employed at a factory supplying ALBIRO claimed there were several violations, including: the employment of non-skilled workers at lower rates, not taking seniority into account for payments, lack of full payments to the Social Security Fund, deduction of transport costs from wages, and lack of holiday pay. Moreover, said the employee, these issues had not been disclosed during a BSCI audit.
The complaint was investigated in November 2016. It was found that some workers were indeed paid a lower rate, and that seniority was not reflected in the payments. Double pay slips were also found, and the payments toward the Social Security Fund were not done correctly for 14 workers. Moreover, workers were not given a permanent contract. While this is not contrary to law, FWF recommends that all workers have a written and signed contract. FWF could not establish violations regarding the deduction of transport costs, lack of holiday pay, non-payment of overtime or the employment of children.
Management at the factory indicated that currency changes, lower prices and bad investments left the factory unable to pay all necessary wages and social security costs. Therefore, FWF recommends ALBIRO to continue cooperation with the supplier, see how the supplier can be helped regarding the financial situation it is in and, most importantly investigate its own pricing policy to learn whether the prices paid support the payment of the legal minimum wages, seniority and social security.
The complainant was satisfied with the outcome of the complaints process and hopes that this process will help to bring improvements to the factory. The complainant hopes that the factory and ALBIRO will work together to uphold the law and ensure workers’ rights.
FWF is pleased to announce that the Vietnamese version of the Fair Wear Formula film is now available online
Final report of complaint in India at factory supplying Takko
On 28 May 2016, a worker employed at a factory in India supplying Takko complained that aeration in the factory is limited, in spite of there being a fan. The worker felt suffocated, and said others shared this concern. While the issue was raised with the line supervisor, the worker alleges no action was taken.
The local Takko audit team conducted an investigation on 30 May, and found that the factory has sufficient windows and ventilators, as well as enough emergency exits and lighting, and sufficient ceiling height that allowed for good air circulation.
FWF auditors then visited the premises on 3 August, to verify these results. FWF therefore concludes the complaint is not grounded.
While the factory is correct to ask workers to use internal grievance structures (like approaching the HR person) before calling the FWF hotline, workers should also know that they are free to call FWF without any negative consequences if they feel they are unable to solve their problem internally.
Initial report Complaint tunisia Expresso 2016
On 5 August 2016, a worker employed by a factory where FWF member Expresso is sourcing complained that in spite of having a medical problem and a doctor’s note to substantiate it, she was not allowed to use the toilet as she needed by medical indication. This happened after a change of management. Further, the worker alleges that the new manager harasses her verbally. Finally, the worker said she had been suspended for three days for failing to respect regulations. The worker alleges this happened without a hearing and without her agreement.
After intervention by the labour union, the suspension was reduced to one day.
The case is currently under investigation.