Concerning labour standards:
The complainant reported about the abusive treatments from his/her chief supervisor. The chief supervisor always uses bad language with workers. The complainant stated that he/she was one of many workers who felt bullied by the chief supervisor and want to resign but cannot since their income would be affected.
In the past, the daily verbal abuse was worse and the situation slightly improved after a complaint from another sewing line to FWF. However, the verbal abuse is still ongoing and the workers feel mistreated.
After the complaint to FWF, the chief supervisor was not happy about it as it could be anyone, even from his/her lines. He/she sarcastically asked workers if anyone from FWF was their husband. The complainant claimed that he/she often sexualises everything and makes workers feel uncomfortable. When workers send suggestion letters to the Managing Director, he/she sarcastically tells workers that it would be in vain if they are trying to flirt with the Managing Director through suggestion letters because he is married.
The complainant added that many skilled workers have left because they could not stand him/her. Even the line leader who worked under him/her resigned because of him/her. The complainant once heard the chief supervisor scolding the line leader “You are not making much progress because you just stick your vagina to your seat and idle”. The complainant once witnessed the supervisor saying during a meeting that his/her colleague, who took leave for half day as he/she was sick, used sickness as an excuse to go on a date with his/her partner.
Moreover, he/she abuses his/her power and only favours the ones who get along with him/her. The workers who get along with him/her can easily obtain gate-pass (signed letter used as a permission to go out or go back) while others cannot easily go home without working overtime even when they are sick. The gate-pass letter has to be signed by the respective chief supervisor and manager if workers wish to go out during working hours or go home after regular working hours. If he/she does not like a worker, he/she does not approve the gate-pass. When he/she had to unwillingly approve the gate-pass of one of the complainant’s colleagues who was so sick, he/she told him/her that he/she approved it because he/he looked like she was about to die.
He/she often pressures workers on production targets to the point that some workers return home uninformed because they cannot stand him/her.
It is also hard to take leave if the workers cannot get long with him/her. So, workers go to work even when they are sick but still get scolded if they cannot perform well.
Additionally, unlike other sewing lines, he/she is the only chief supervisor that collects monetary fine from workers when they make mistake:
• (200/300 MMK when there is production mistake)
• (200 MMK when workers wear Thanakha)
• (500 MMK when workers forget to leave a piece of fabric under the feed dog of the sewing machine)
The supervisor has not told workers what he/she would do with the money but he/she told them that he/she saves the money for the workers.
For international and Myanmar New year days, some of the chief supervisors collects money from the workers to buy clothes and food for workers. However, it is mandatory. The chief supervisor of line 8-9 blames the workers if they cannot pay.
• 6000 MMK per worker for a top to wear on International New Year day
• Est 10,000 MMK per worker for biryani and fabric to make clothes for Myanmar New Year
The complainant feels that it is a big deal for workers as this amount could feed them for a whole month.
Lastly, the complainant mentioned that he/she called FWF not because he/she wants her chief supervisor to be punished or terminated. He/she only expects that the factory management will hear his/her voice and help to change the misbehaviour of the supervisor. He/she wishes that management gets in touch with the workers from the ground level and monitors the working conditions in the factory.
Findings and conclusions
Moreover, as per the complainant, the supervisor abused his/her power and only favoured the ones who got along with him/her. The complainant also reported that he/she is the only chief supervisor who collected monetary fines from workers when they made mistakes. Finally, for international and Myanmar New Year days, some of the chief supervisors collected money from workers to buy clothes and food. However, the supervisor of the complainant scolded workers if they could not pay.
FWF brands sourcing at the factory, Jack Wolfskin and Schoffel, immediately contacted the factory management and asked for a response.The brands encouraged factory management to conduct its own investigation to check whether the accusations from the complainant reflect the truth or not. The factory management shared the results of its investigation with the FWF member brands. The factory management made a CAP in which it responded systematically to the accusations and indicated the corrective measures taken.
FWF repeatedly tried to contact the complainant but was unsuccessful. FWF therefore closed the case, noting that the factory management investigated the complaint thoroughly and took appropriate action. Finally, FWF concurred with the brands that some sort of training to improve worker-management communication may prove of use in the factory. FWF's WEP Communications module could be considered in this regard.This complaint is closed.
Overview of the complaint investigation
FWF brands sourcing at the factory, Jack Wolfskin and Schoffel, immediately contacted the factory management and asked for a response. The brand also explained clearly that the initial complaint report reflects the story from the complainant. There are, as always, two sides to a story, which must be investigated. The brands encouraged the management to conduct its own investigation to check whether the accusations from the complainant reflected the truth or not. Finally, it was conveyed that each factory has issues. In this regard, complaints must always be taken seriously and seen as an opportunity to improve.
The factory management shared the results of its investigation with the FWF member brands. The factory management made a CAP in which it responded systematically to the accusations.
The investigation of the management confirmed that the accused supervisor seems to be somewhat intense in his/her expression sometimes, which did give workers an uncomfortable feeling. In case of conflict, workers could perceive the reprimand as an insult. Factory management indicated that no radical expressions or sexual expressions are allowed.
In such a case, a warning letter must be issued and the supervisor retrained by a top manager.
As to the forced donations, factory management explained firstly that there is a unique and religious culture in Myanmar that the factory management must respect. However, the company stipulates that any form of fundraising is not compulsory. Management indicated that it will once again raise awareness of compulsory fund raising, and if compulsory fundraising re-occurs, they will prohibit any kind of fundraising in the company. Also, fines for mistakes are prohibited.
The factory also investigated the absenteeism and resignation rates of the production lines of the supervisor and compared this to other lines, looking specifically at the period 10 days before and after the complaint was lodged. It did not find any increase in absenteeism and resignations in the lines of the supervisor.
Furthermore, after receiving this complaint, the management conducted an anonymous survey and tried to listen personal opinions. The contents of the survey, and the steps taken by the management, are summarised below:
1. Verbal abuse and sexual statements
Survey result: considering the survey results, resignation rate and statements from other managers, it was concluded that the supervisor's management style is rough and strict. He/she use bad language sometimes. As for workers, the supervisor should receive a warning card and training.
1/ Issue warning card due to language
2/ Job retraining: explain company rules of managing production line.
Give a training: verbal warning x 3 times to worker -> Written warning after 3 times verbal warnings
2. Misuse of power
Management could not find any evidence with written and verbal statement.
As for the early leave, factory management is going to set up the procedure as below in order to avoid personal judgement.
Notice to Nurse-> Check body -> report to office if somebody is in sick -> Sign by factory manager for gate pass.
3. Collect monetary fines in case of mistakes
Penalties for mistakes are immediately forbidden.
Publicly disclosed all collected information and returned it to the collectors with a signature at once.
4. High amounts of money collected for Myanmar New Year and public blaming for those who cannot pay.
1. Announce officially to prevent compulsory fund-raising.
2. Set new rule up for compulsory funding to be returned immediately.
Finally, the factory management indicated that the supervisor is also one of the workers, and he/she need more training on how the manager and worker can work together and collaborate. The factory will continue to make such efforts and immediately resolve any issues found and communicate with relevant workers.
FWF repeatedly tried to contact the complainant but was unsuccessful. FWF therefore closed the case, noting that the factory management investigated the complaint thoroughly and took appropriate action.
FWF suggested to carefully monitor the chance of discriminatory practices for the gate-pass approval system (irrespective of sickness) after normal working hour and during break time as it means that the workers are restricted to leave the factory and there is a chance of discrimination like this although the factory may not intend to do so.
Finally, FWF concurs with the FWF brands that some sort of training to improve worker-management communication may prove of use in the factory. FWF's WEP Communications module could be considered in this regard.