Acne Studios, Jack Wolfskin, LK International AG (Kjus), ODLO International AG, Schoffel Sportbekleidung GmbH, VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG, Complaint 124

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Employment is freely chosen Payment of a living wage Reasonable hours of work
STATUS
Closed
DATE
2015-03-25

The first two complaints were filed by packing workers currently employed by the factory. The third complaint was filed by a worker currently employed by the factory, probably from the packing department. The complaints were about non-voluntary excessive overtime hours in case of tight delivery, especially in the packing department.

The first two complainants stated that in cases of tight delivery, overtime hours are from 17:00 to 02:00/03:00 and are not paid at all.
Moreover, the first complainant indicated workers are coached to give favourable answers to the audit team's questions during the interview process; they are afraid of losing their job because of telling the truth.

The third complaint, received a few days after a verification audit held at the factory, states that in September and October 2015, workers worked 60 to 90 overtime hours per month, with sometimes up to 8 overtime hours on a single day. He/she furthermore stated that these extra overtime hours are not recorded into the system, nor are they paid.

Findings and conclusions

On 25 March 2015, 4 May 2015 and 9 November 2015, FWF's complaints handler in China received complaints from factory workers, who claimed that there were excessive overtime hours at the factory, particularly in the packing department. The complainants claimed that in cases of tight delivery, overtime hours are from 17:00 to 02:00/03:00 and are not paid at all. The first complainant also claimed that workers had been coached on to give favourable answers to the auditor's questions during the interview process. FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Acne Studios, Jack Wolfskin, Kjus, Odlo, Schoeffel and Vaude, the 6 member brands sourcing at this factory. The brands reached out the factory management, they cannot prevent overtime hours in peak season. Given the delivery times of their customers, they usually feel pressure to complete shipments when all clients require orders at the same time. Factory also indicated they, in some cases, need to reproduce orders in case of claims, which needs to be rushed and therefore also contribute to the pressure. During the verification audit on 2 and 3 November 2015, no coaching of workers or excessive overtime hours were found. However, the third complaint was lodged after the audit had been conducted. Due to the three complaints about the same issue, FWF strongly recommends the members to analyse the root causes of excessive overtime hours and discuss with the factory how their production planning can facilitate the factory in order to not create more pressure. They are advised to contact other clients of the factory to increase leverage and impact to reduce the number of excessive overtime hours. The factory must adopt a system where all working hours are recorded and monitored through the time punching system.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2015-03-27 Investigation

FWF informed Acne Studios, Jack Wolfskin, Kjus, Odlo, Schoeffel and Vaude, the 6 members about the first complaints and requested the members to contact the supplier and ask for a reply.

FWF analysed the audit that took place at this supplier in March 2014. The audit did not conclude excessive overtime hours for the packing department.

On 27 March 2015, the first complainant wrote an email to FWF's complaints handler to explain further details about his working hours:
- 23 March 2015, workers from the packing and inspection sections worked from 17:00 to 19:00 without punching their time cards.
- 24 March 2015, cap brim processing sections worked from 17:00 to 18:30, packing sections worked from 20:30 to 22:00/22:45, without punching their time cards.

The factory responded by confirming they cannot prevent overtime hours in peak season. Given the delivery times of their customers, they usually feel pressure to complete shipments when all clients require orders at the same time. Factory also indicated they, in some cases, need to reproduce orders in case of claims, which needs to be rushed and therefore also contribute to the pressure. Moreover, the factory stated all overtime is always voluntary, falls within the government requirements and should be paid in compliance with the government requirements.

2015-11-04 Investigation

The investigation of the first two complaints consisted of a verification audit on the 2nd and 3rd of November 2015. Aside from the ILO convention, Chinese law also limits the number of overtime hours to 3 hours per day and 36 per month. The complainants indicated they work extra hours without using their punching card. This means these hours are not documented and for that reason not checked or monitored.

2015-11-09 Investigation

The third complainant further claimed that:
- A group of workers from the packing department of factory No. 2 started working at 14:00 and ended their work at 23:30 on 16 October 2015.
- On 28 October 2015, workers from the packing department of factory No.1 started working at 08:00 and finished working at 00:00. On the same day, workers from the packing section of factory No. 2 started to work at 10:00 and finished working at 1:30/2:00 the next day.
- Workers from the buttoning section of factory No.2 worked consecutively for 14 days, from 4 October to 17 October 2015. Furthermore, they were also required to do night overtime hours during this period.
- On 10 and 11 October 2015, which were a Saturday and Sunday, workers were required to work but were only allowed to punch their time card for one of these two days, the other day was counted as 'black hours', which did not exist and was not paid.

Members should require the factory to provide evidence to corroborate with the above claims. In addition, the factory must respond to the fact that the punching card is not used for extra overtime hours.

2015-11-09 Remediation

Due to the three complaints about the same issue, FWF strongly recommends the members to analyse the root causes of excessive overtime hours and discuss with the factory how their production planning can facilitate the factory in order to not create more pressure.

They are advised to contact other clients of the factory to increase leverage and impact to reduce the number of excessive overtime hours.

The factory must adopt a system where all working hours are recorded and monitored through the time punching system.

2015-11-24 Verification

Remediation of the first two complaints was verified through a verification audit at the beginning of November. It was found that workers were no longer coached during the audit. Though there were no findings of excessive overtime, a few days after the verification audit, a third complaint was received about excessive overtime hours.

2015-11-24 Closed

FWF strongly recommends the members to analyse the root causes of excessive overtime hours and discuss with the factory how their production planning can facilitate the factory in order to not create more pressure. Furthermore, FWF advises the brands to continuously monitor the excessive overtime situation.