Concerning labour standards:
The complainant claimed that there is discrimination against some workers. He/she claimed that, in 2017, most workers received a wage increase and a few did not. He/she claimed that management used some workers as a 'telltale' and when they refused this, they faced pressure from management. He/she also claimed that there are days missing in the social security registration.
Findings and conclusions
Overview of the complaint investigation
The complainant called the second day of the audit. The audit team verified most of his/her allegations during the audit. FWF informed Bierbaum-Proenen about the complaint and sent them the audit report in July.
07/07/2017 Conclusion of the investigation
Findings of the audit team:
1. Social security: Part of the complaint was about days missing in the social security registration. The auditors verified this as true.
2. Discrimination: The complainant stated that there was discrimination against some workers. For instance, he/she claimed that most of the workers had received a wage increase that year and a few did not. The auditors determined that the factory management was not transparent with regards to wage records. This was why the auditors could not assess whether this part of the complaint was true.
The audit team suspects possible discrimination against pregnant and breast-feeding workers as factory management could not provide a policy to protect pregnant and breast-feeding workers. This was an additional finding to the initial complaint.
Factory management responded:
1. The factory was founded at the beginning of 2015. The social security agency was informed about all workers from the first day of employment. However, in 2015, the social security agency was unable to register all workers at once time, but it registered them over a period of two months. This was the reason why some workers were registered late. A statement from the social security agency was requested.
2. Factory management confirmed that there were different levels among workers, which determined the amount of wage increase that they received. Wages were increased based on the following criteria:
a) Standard yearly wage increase as per government regulations;
b) Wage increase based on performance evaluation;
c) Wage increase for workers who received a promotion.
01/23/2018 Conclusion of the investigation
With regards to wages, it seemed that factory management had a system and reasons for wage increases that went beyond the legally required increase. However this system was unclear to workers, which led to a feeling of discrimination.
With regard to outstanding social security payments, Bierbaum-Proenen and its factory were asked to:
1a) Share with FWF the statement from the social security agency;
1b) Ensure registration of all workers under social security;
1c) Ensure all outstanding social security payments are made.
To ensure workers understand wage increases, the following was requested:
2a) Factory management should set up a policy explaining the factory's wage system.
2b) All workers should be made aware of the wage system.
The factory must establish a policy to protect pregnant and breast-feeding workers. All workers should be informed about factory policy on protecting pregnant and breast-feeding workers.
Bierbaum-Proenen and the factory took the remediation steps requested above and shared the relevant documentation as proof.
FWF can confirm the following:
- The factory shared document EK16 related to social security payments, which shows that there are no outstanding social security payments to settle.
- The factory shared document EK18 related to factory wage system and sent training records which proved that staff have been informed about the wage system.
Based on the above, both findings regarding wage system transparency and social security payments can be closed and considered resolved.