The complainant reported that a lot of accidents occur with the buttoning machines but there is no effective action taken by the factory to prevent or reduce the risk. The complainant is a sewing operator who witnesses frequent accidents. He/she believes that there are three main factors which lead to the accidents:
1. There are not enough machines per line. The buttoning process requires two machines as a set: a button attaching machine and a buttonhole machine. There are only about 25 machines for 18 sewing lines. Therefore, workers have to share the machines and often end up queuing, which is time consuming. When it is their turn, they have to rush their work as they do not want to make the others wait.
2. Machines break from time to time, which causes workers to work on an even more limited number of machines.
3. Despite all these difficulties, supervisors are not flexible and always say that they do not want to hear any excuses but see the work done.
He/she added that the factory did not readjust or inspect the machines after an accident but just washed the blood away. The only conclusion they make is that the worker was sleepy and careless. However, the complainant claimed that his/her colleague was not sleepy at all. The accident happened because the machine suddenly stopped after he/she stepped on the lever. He/she looked at the switch to check whether it was working but the lever went off and hurt his/her finger.
The complainant wishes the factory to increase the number of machines to minimise the accidents.
Findings and conclusions
Overview of the complaint investigation
The FWF member brand Schoffel, immediately contacted the factory management and asked for a response. On 29 August 2018, the brand shared the response from the management with FWF. Factory management stated the following:
1. Management had an open meeting with all supervisors in the sewing department (both locals and expats). The statement from all the supervisors was that there were no complaints whatsoever received from workers regarding lack of either button machines or snap button machines. The supervisors were reminded during this meeting that it is imperative that they report any complaints from workers to the HR Department. Proof of the meeting was shared.
2. Factory management indicated that it looked into the injury records of the month and previous month, and found no reports of injuries by button machines or snap button machines.
3. Management also checked with its Industrial Engineer to see whether there was a bottleneck in production for either the button machines or snap button machines, and found that this was not the case. To the contrary, there were idle machines and no bottlenecks in production regarding button machines.
4. Furthermore, management asked their newly elected worker representatives about the problem. They all said that no reports had been made about injuries caused by button machines.
Finally, management indicated that it respected the privacy and anonymity of all complainants should they choose to remain anonymous. However, the factory simply can not make further capital purchases based on an anonymous claim with no backing or proof. The management added that it would take immediate action if there was any danger present due to lack of machinery, or even if there was a negative effect on efficiency based on machinery. However, no evidence was gathered that confirmed such problems.
FWF repeatedly tried to follow up with the complainant in order verify the statements made by the factory management. The complainant, however, did not pick up the phone and later FWF found that the number was no longer in use. As there were no more reports of accidents, and based on the feedback from the factory management, FWF considered the complaint as not grounded. The brand and FWF will continue to monitor the situation.