The complainant, together with some of her colleagues, reached out to FWF about being physically harassed by two supervisors (who are sisters) on 20 December 2017. The complainant worked overtime until 20:00 and upon finishing the shift all workers, including the complainant, moved towards the buses. When she reached the bus, the two supervisors were blocking her way and she asked them to move a little bit to let her pass. The supervisors swore at the complainant and beat her, which resulted in severe bruising around the eye. When the complainant disembarked the bus, the supervisors and their brother, who is also employed by the factory, were waiting for her. The brother said that they should 'just stab her with a pair of scissors next time'. The complainant and her colleagues were afraid of this threat as well as of any possible repercussions attached to complaining about the incident. However, the next day, the complainant and her colleagues informed the supervisor in charge about what had transpired, who replied that she would not help to solve the issue, and that they should try another complaint channel. The complainant was reluctant to raise the issue with the HR department as she does not believe that it would be handled effectively. The complainant and her colleagues are concerned that the case would be resolved by the payment of compensation and no further action.
Findings and conclusions
Overview of the complaint investigation
FWF informed the brand of the incident, who immediately brought the case to the factory's head office in Japan. FWF also called the factory management because the workers informed FWF that the brother keeps aggressively approaching the complainant. According to the factory management, the HR department is aware of the case; the two supervisors already apologised and agreed to pay for the treatment. Management stated that the complainant is satisfied.
The workers called FWF and said that the factory gave a warning letter to the two supervisors. However, the workers do not think that this is a fair disciplinary action. Therefore, they proposed two possible actions, one of which the supervisors should take, to the management:
• That the supervisors are demoted for one month OR
• That the supervisors apologise to the complainant in front of the workers (the two supervisors had already apologised, but not in a respectful manner)
The management said that since there is no regulation in the factory for such proposals, they are unable to decide. However, the boss did say that if the supervisors agree to one of the actions that it would be okay. The two supervisors did not agree to either. Therefore, he asked the workers to come back with a new proposal. The workers, including another 400 workers, were not satisfied with this and wanted the case to be handled strongly by the management.
The workers also brought this to the township conciliation body, but the case was rejected due to the fact that is was not about illegal termination. The labour officer said that since the management did not do anything, they cannot accept the case.
The brand brought it up for discussion with the head office in Japan.
The management dismissed the two supervisors in question. According to the complainant, the management also asked her to rest a month or two at home, until everything settled down. This was because there were around 50 workers, who worked under the two dismissed supervisors, who disagreed with the management's final decision. To avoid further conflict, the complainant is allowed to take unpaid leave for as long as she wants. The management also added that she is welcome back anytime.
However, the complainant does not want to return even after everything has settled down, as she does not want any further hatred or trouble. She is afraid of being subjected to further harassment of violence at the hands of the workers who are dissatisfied with the management's decision. In addition, she indicated that she is planning on going to Malaysia with her husband.
The management showed the complainant the termination letter given to the supervisors before she left the factory. Since she wants to resign of her own will, the factory is not required to pay compensation, and she is happy with the result.