Concerning labour standards:
The complainant reported about the mean, uncompromising and aggressive treatment from the Chinese supervisor who is in charge of upstairs in building H3. The complainant has been working in the factory for almost four years but he/she and his/her colleagues are getting upset about the unfriendly working environment which is different compared to other production buildings. So, they finally decided to report this case to FWF. They do not want to resign just because of something that could be changed and the complainant, on behalf of other workers, asked FWF to help the workers on this matter.
According to the complainant, the Chinese supervisor speaks fluent Burmese and does not need an interpreter as he/she has been working in Myanmar for many years. As he/she is a hardworking person, he/she is very strict and inflexible as he/she wants workers to be as hardworking as him/her and become as good as him/her. For workers who come from poor families and are less educated, it is not easy to keep up with her. Sometimes, they feel as if they are in the military. The Chinese supervisor is indeed strict when it comes to production targets and so, the local supervisors have to be as strict as him/her but the ones who suffer are workers. Due to the work pressure, the workers have to work during break times as they are afraid that they would be scolded if they are behind. The complainant stated that the break times were essential for workers who had to work continuously. Many of the workers are unhappy about it. Therefore, turnover rate is noticeably high in their department. As the resigned workers are replaced by new ones, who are usually unskilled, there are more mistakes and delays in the sewing lines.
Whenever workers make a mistake, he/she would scold them harshly saying they should quit instead of being a burden to him/her. He/she often scolds them at meetings by name making them feel embarrassed and intimidated. His/her usual response even for a minor mistake is shouting and talking angrily.
The complainant feels that as a supervisor, he/she should be more compromising and handle the problems depending on how serious they are. Many of the workers are upset as they feel that Myanmar workers are being treated harshly by Chinese supervisors. So, they wish the Chinese supervisor to be kinder and compromise with them instead of shouting aggressively.
Moreover, the complainant repeatedly mentioned his/her concerns on retaliation from management as it is rumoured that the worker who complained to FWF about mandatory donation was retaliated against and had to resigned. FWF's complaints handler explained to him/her the non-retaliation and confidentiality policy.
Findings and conclusions
FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Vaude, the FWF member sourcing at this factory. As the complainant wanted to stay anonymous, FWF and Vaude encouraged factory management to handle this case delicately without blaming the individual supervisor. It was thus suggested to factory management to give him/her constructive feedback as a reflection from workers rather than a personal complaint, and take this as an opportunity to train him/her and other supervisors on good supervisory skills. As a result, factory management held a meeting on 9 January with all supervisors where it was explained that they should always remain calm when workers make mistakes. Managers also should learn how to respect workers, as it would promote harmony between workers and managers..
FWF repeatedly tried to follow up with the complainant but the number was no longer in use. It was therefore decided to close the complaint. FWF and Vaude will continue to monitor the situation and support the factory to improve internal communication between workers and management, e.g. through the SMART programme or WEP Communications. This complaint is closed.
Overview of the complaint investigation
As the complainant wanted to remain anonymous, FWF and Vaude decided that factory management should be encouraged to handle this case delicately without harshly blaming the individual Chinese supervisor. One should consider that the Chinese supervisor is being strict and inflexible towards workers as he/she is a very hardworking employee himself/herself. It was thus suggested to the factory management to give him/her constructive feedback as a reflection from the workers rather than a personal complaint, and take this as an opportunity to train him/her and other supervisors on good supervisory skills.
On this basis, Vaude contacted the factory management and suggested to them that they should not confront the supervisor (which is easy to identify) directly, but instead make a general announcement on how to treat the workers and also that this kind of behaviour as described in the complaint is not acceptable.
As a result, the factory management held a meeting on 9 January with all Chinese supervisors where the message was conveyed that supervisors should always keep a calm attitude when workers make a mistake or disobey the regulation or plan. Managers also have to learn how to respect workers. It will promote harmony between workers and managers. Abuse or shout will not improve the bad situation.
In addition, on 12 January the factory management had a meeting with SMART with the intention to participate in the communications and dialogue programme to strengthen the internal communication and also the internal complaints mechanism.
FWF repeatedly tried to follow-up with the complainant but the number was no longer in use. It was therefore decided to close the complaint. FWF and Vaude will continue to monitor the situation and support the factory to improve internal communication between workers and management, e.g. through the SMART programme or WEP Communications. This complaint is closed.