Bierbaum-Proenen GmbH & Co. KG, Complaint 225

Safe and healthy working conditions Legally binding employment relationship

The complainant reported two issues:

1. The complainant claims that he/she was insulted by management who supposedly shouted and threatened him/her with termination if he/she kept working the same way. The worker continued working for several days but could not handle the situation and ended up missing three days of work at the end of November 2016. When he/she returned to the factory, he/she said he/she was dismissed without compensation.

2. The complainant stated that he/she started working at the factory on 5 January 2015. After seven months, he/she realised that social security payments only started two months after recruitment. In addition, 70 days of social security payments were missing. The complainant took this to the factory management who promised to make the corrections which is why the worker kept working at the factory and did not take the case to court. The complainant later discovered that corrections were not made as promised.

Findings and conclusions

On 22 January 2017, FWF’s complaints handler in Turkey received a complaint from a former worker, who claimed that management insulted him/her and dismissed him/her without compensation, as well as that social security payments are outstanding. FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Bierbaum-Proenen, the FWF member sourcing at this factory. Due to the sensitivity of this complaint, worker interviews were conducted. The interviews confirmed that the production manager maltreated workers in the case of poor performance. The investigation revealed further inconsistencies related to documentation. Since the complainant could no longer be reached, Bierbaum-Proenen is advised to include the outstanding remediation points into their monitoring system. The complaint is closed.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2017-02-03 Investigation

The FWF local team audited the factory in 2016. The delay in registration of workers with the social security agency and inconsistent time keeping and production records were highlighted in the audit report and CAP report.

Bierbaum-Proenen has contacted its supplier and got immediate feedback from the factory.
1. Since the worker missed work for three days without notifying factory management, the complainant does not have the right to compensation according to Turkish law.
2. The brand asked the supplier for social security declarations, pay slips and the time record card concerning the plaintiff for 2015 and 2016. The brand and factory sent these documents.

2017-06-05 Conclusion of the investigation

Since the dismissal was a consequence of the alleged misbehavior of factory management, FWF opted to conduct further (worker) interviews.

The records maintained by the supplier along with the supporting documents related to the complaint revealed that an on-site investigation audit was needed. This 'verification audit' was planned for early June 2017.

2017-06-05 Investigation

On 5 & 6 June 2017, a FWF verification audit was conducted at the supplier to investigate the complaint.

2017-06-05 Conclusion of the investigation

1. Interviews confirmed that the production manager maltreated workers in the case of low performance. None of the workers interviewed reported maltreatment or insulting behavior by supervisors or upper management. This does not confirm the individual case but shows that the accusations could be reasonable.
The documents inspected revealed that six out of eleven employees have been dismissed under the social security termination code 29: 'Termination of the employment relationship by the employer due to employee's poor behavior contrary to rules of morality and goodwill.' The signatures of the employees in dismissal documents did not match the signatures in other documents in the personnel files.

2. Documents inspected revealed that workers who were recruited in 2015 were registered late with the social security agency--between one day and up to two months after recruitment. Workers who were recruited in 2016 and 2017 were registered on the day of recruitment. Since management did not keep attendance records for the employees who quit the job or were dismissed, the audit team could not verify the exact amount of unregistered days in the complainant's case.
In general, the investigation revealed inconsistencies in documentation, not only with regard to social security payments but also when recording working hours.

2018-01-26 Evaluation of the complaint

Evaluation of the complaint is not possible as the complainant is no longer reachable by phone.

2018-01-26 Remediation

A (1). Extra attention should be given to workers' performance indicators and whether these are reasonable.
B (1 and 2). Documents, especially those related to contracts, termination/dismissal, social security registration and its payments as well as working hours should be consistent and filed accurately.
C (1). Since the complaint concerned one supervisor, FWF advises investigating the reason for worker dismissals, in which departments the workers have been working and whether dismissals might relate to the specific supervisor.

2018-01-26 Closed

Since the complainant cannot be reached, this complaint is closed. However, FWF found problems related to the initial complaint, which is why FWF advises Bierbaum-Proenen to include the remediation steps in their regular monitoring system.