Concerning labour standards:
Ms. Hristina Ampeva is the leader of the local organization for protection of labour rights in the garment sector in Macedonia ("Glasen Tekstilec"). On Friday 16 October and Wednesday 17 October 2018, she has received 3 calls via her organisations' helpline regarding the decreased salaries of workers in a FWF member factory. On Wednesday 17 October, she called the FWF Macedonian complaints handler and asked to file an official complaint to FWF as she had information from the workers (complainants) that the factory is producing for FWF member.
The three complainants claimed that their received salaries had drastically decreased for the month of September 2018. The complainants working in the factory reported that the wages decreased, and some of the workers received wages that are below the legal minimum wages. After the workers requested an explanation from the owner and General Manager, it was publicly explained to the complainants that the reason for their decreased wages is that they are being punished because they did not voted on the last national referendum for the changes of the name of the country. A national referendum was organised in the country where citizens were invited to vote on whether they agree to change the name of the country from Republic of Macedonia to Republic of North Macedonia. This is a personal matter, voting in a referendum is a human right of every citizen guaranteed by the Macedonian constitution and should not be related to the working conditions of specific workers. The factory manager is politically oriented to the political party currently governing the country.
Workers pointed out they recently underwent the FWF Workplace Education Programme on 15 October 2018, which could have helped to encourage them to file the complaint. Ms. Hristina is concerned about the situation in the factory and especially for the affected workers. The situation at the factory is tense due to the political situation and Ms. Hristina Ampeva is afraid that further punishments will follow.
Overview of the complaint investigation
The field investigation took place on 29th October at the factory premises and included following processes:
a) Interview with factory management regarding the actual complaint;
b) Document inspection/ wage lists and supporting documents related to the wages;
c) On site Interviews with the workers.
Off site worker interviews were organized and conducted via phone on 27th October, prior to factory visit and are considered as relevant source of this investigation.
10/30/2018 Conclusion of the investigation
1. No discrimination: Based on the interview with management and interview with workers the political discrimination was not concluded as a reason for payment of wages below the legal minimum wage. From the document inspection it was not concluded that wages in September are lower that the wages paid in August (average wage paid in September is higher than average wage paid in August).
Conclusion: The existence of political discrimination is not concluded based on the available findings.
2. Living wage: From the documenting inspection, interviews with workers and interviews with management it was clear evidence that in the factory some of the wages are paid below the legal minimum wage. As for months of September 2018, 29 workers or 14% out of total workers in the factory received wage below legally prescribed minimum wage. In month of August, 37 or 19% of all workers received wage below the legally prescribed minimum wage. And in month of July 26, or 13% of all workers are not paid with legal minimum prescribed wages.
Conclusion: Factory is violating the labour relation law and FWF labour standards in terms of payment of legal minimum wage
3. Reasonable working hours: During the documents inspection it was considered that workers work every Saturday which is 8 hours overtime per week. The overtime working hours are not recorded in the workers’ payslips and not paid appropriately.
Conclusion: Factory is violating the labour relation law and FWF labour standards in terms of not correctly paying overtime working hours.
Recommended remediation solutions for the confirmed findings:
• Factory needs immediately to start with payment of legal minimum wage in line with the legal requirements. The factory is not allowed to make any deductions of the wages if the worker who works regular number of hours did not achieve the piece rate norm. This way of wage calculation in Macedonia is forbidden since May 2018.
• Overtime working hours (working in Saturdays) need to be recorded and paid accordingly, with premium rate of 135% any time when they occur. Overtime hours during the national holiday need to be paid with premium rate of 150%.
• The workers representative council is not functional and need to be revitalised. The manager needs to enable environment for the workers to select new workers representative and to start setting the communication and grievance system.