Concerning labour standards:
The complainant reported recurring overtime (OT) on Sundays. According to the complainant, workers have been doing a lot of overtime on Sundays and excessive overtime until 22:00. Their last Sunday should have been 16 December 2018 but they were asked to work again on 23 December (Sunday). The complainant felt that this was too much as they had been working continuously without a day off for 14 days. Only important lines were asked to work on Sundays. Although the factory said overtime should be voluntary, the supervisors would say things that made workers feel obliged, and somehow intimidated, to go to work.
Since the factory was not implementing legally entitled leave as per Social Security Board (SSB) law, the workers highly relied on Sundays to rest. Additionally, the complainant demanded to be informed about work on Sundays 2-3 days in advance. He felt that the factory should be transparent about their Sunday work policy, so that workers know whether it is legal or not. He also suggested that the factory should not make overtime sound mandatory.
Findings and conclusions
Overview of the complaint investigation
FWF brands sourcing at the factory, Schoffel and Jack Wolfskin, contacted the factory management and asked for a response.
On 9 January 2019, the factory management shared a response in the form of a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). The management explained that in December 2018 there were many shipments with huge quantity. After an internal final inspection, the management was unsatisfied with the quality and had to open the packed garments for cleaning and re-trimming until 27 December 2019. Nonetheless, the factory had decided that no Sunday work would take place on 23 December 2018.
The management also offered some further explanation about the reason why the factory had to intensify production with overtime in 2018. According to the factory management, an important contributing factor was a fire that happened in the previous production location owned by the same company. The factory was the main production location until May 2018, after which the production was relocated to the new facility. Because of a fire at the previous facility, a lot of finished goods were lost, which had to be remade in order to keep credibility with the customers. As a result, the factory experienced a backlog which caused an additional burden until November/ December 2018. After that, the production began to stabilise and the situation went back to normal in 2019.
The management, furthermore, committed that it will not have any overtime that would exceed the legal requirements. It finally confirmed that it will pay the correct overtime fee and will grant a compensatory day off as required by law.
Considering the response from the factory management, FWF advised that:
1. The factory should announce the Sunday OT in advance at the earliest convenience so that the workers can decide and manage their logistics properly.
2. The factory should post OT permits weekly as per law and for the sake of transparency with the workers.
3. The factory must provide leave and benefits according to the law and inform the workers on the implementation.
FWF member brands conveyed a clear message to the factory management indicating that there may always be situations with higher pressure due to delivery deadlines which may require work on a Sunday. However, in such cases, the management should ensure that workers who have performed Sunday work would get the chance to get the following Monday off to recover. Also, OT may happen from time to time but workers must always have the chance to freely decide if they want to do OT. It is not acceptable that workers have the impression that it is bad for them to reject OT.
The brands also made it clear that OT until 22:00 is definitely too late, since it means that there are about five OT hours on that day. This circumstances lead to the impression that there is poor production planning in the factory.
Nonetheless, the brands expressed appreciation for the described corrective actions of the factory, noting that the brands will closely follow up on them. Concretely, the brands requested the factory to share for the next three months working time documents including all OT and Sunday work. In parallel, the brand will stay in touch with various workers via FWF to check if the situation for the workers has improved.
The brands, furthermore, indicated that it would be appreciated if the factory management would manage from now on to avoid overtime or Sunday work, as much as it can, or at least announce it properly some days in advance with the clear statement that this additional working time is voluntary and workers can freely decide whether they want to work or not.
The brands will monitor the working times of the factory closely to see if things really change and they expect full cooperation from the factory management. The factory was invited to signal any difficulties with certain delivery dates and work together to find joint solutions when needed.
This complaint is closed.