Bierbaum-Proenen GmbH & Co. KG, Complaint 632

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Resolved
DATE
2019-04-09

The complainant had been working at the factory since September 2015, with three-month contracts.
The last contract expired on 31 March 2019 and was not renewed. The complainant stated that he/she was not informed in advance about the non-renewal of the contract.The complainant was summoned by the administration to receive the wage of March and in that occasion was told about the non-renewal. The reason being that the supervisor no longer wanted to keep him/her.
The complainant claimed to be often harassed by the supervisor with insults and shouting but also physically by being pushed onto the cart. The complainant also claimed that the supervisor used to hit workers by throwing cotton coils. The complainant refused to sign the resignation imposed by the factory and refused to take his/her wage of March. At the time of the complaint, the manager of the factory was travelling for business and was not aware of the forced resignation incident.

Findings and conclusions

On 9 April 2019, FWF’s complaints handler in Tunisia received a complaint from a factory worker, who claimed that he/she had been dismissed without being notified in advance, did not receive the last salary payment and had been previously harassed by the supervisor.
FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Bierbaum-Proenen, the FWF member sourcing at this factory.
FWF member Bierbaum-Proenen contacted the factory management. The factory management conducted an internal investigation with a contradictory conclusion and provided its statement and all relevant documents to FWF claiming that the worker had been paid in full on 1 June and no further payment was due.
FWF called the complainant to verify the situation, cross-checked the facts and the evidence provided by the brand as received from the factory. The complainant acknowledged all documents and confirmed receiving the payment of March salary and severance payment.
During the FWF audit in July, which had been scheduled before the complaint was received, the FWF local audit team assessed and verified the behaviour of the supervisor. According to workers' feedback, communication with the supervisor had improved. The audit team did not notice any signs of negative behaviour of workers or their supervisor.
The brand and the factory followed the FWF procedure and responded appropriately with the remediation.
The complainant was satisfied with receiving all dues and did not wish to return to work at this factory.
This complaint is resolved.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2019-04-10 Investigation

FWF has informed its member about the case and has asked for a response. FWF advised the member to follow up with the factory:
1) Why the contract was not renewed?
2) Why the complainant did not receive the notice in advance related to the contract, instead he/she learned this on the last day?
3) The complainant refused to receive the salary of March – this should be still paid by the factory.
4) Investigate the harassment allegations against the supervisor.
This can be done through the workers' committee.

The CSR brand representative contacted the General Manager of the factory to discuss this issue several times. As per his statement:'There are the camera´s installed in the production hall and we know, that “hitting with thread coils”, like stated in the complaint, would be seen and never be accepted by the General Manager.

2019-04-12 Conclusion of the investigation

The factory conducted an internal investigation with a contradictive conclusion and provided its statement and all relevant documents to FWF. The complaint handler contacted the complainant to cross-check the actual facts and the evidence provided by the brand as received from the factory. The following evidence was provided by the member (received from the factory):
1) Factory official statement and incident research
2) Overview absence days of the complainant (2016, 2017, 2018)
3) Signed Received last salary payment of March
4) Signed resignation
All documents were verified by the complaint handler who contacted the complainant. The complainant acknowledged all documents and confirmed receiving the payment of the March salary and severance payment. The complainant also confirmed 22 days of absence in March due to health problem and stress and the 3 days layoff due to a conflict with the line supervisor.

2019-04-15 Remediation

All documents received from the factory were verified by the complaint handler.
The complainant acknowledged all documents and confirmed receiving the payment of March salary and severance payment. However, the complainant wishes to return to work.

FWF will assess and verify the behaviour of the supervisor during the FWF audit scheduled for 18 &19 July.

2019-09-23 Verification

The complaint handler called the complainant to verify receiving the remaining salary and severance payments. The complainant confirmed receiving the payment of March salary, severance payment and does not wish to return and work for the factory anymore. The complainant also confirmed 22 days of absence in March due to health problem and stress and the 3 days layoff due to a conflict with the line supervisor.

The behaviour of the supervisor has been verified during the FWF audit conducted at the factory on 18-19 July.
The worker interviewer checked with the workers on the behaviour of the supervisor. According to workers' feedback, communication with the supervisor has improved and became more fluent. The complaint handler discussed this topic with the supervisor with the conclusion that the supervisor became more cooperative, understanding of workers issues without any fast negative judgements.
During the audit factory inspection, the audit team did not notice any sign of negative behaviour of workers or their supervisor.

Previously, the complainant handler asked the complainant to direct other workers who have the same complaint to contact the complaint handler. So far, no other workers contacted the complaint handler.

2019-10-16 Evaluation of the complaint

The brand and the factory followed the FWF procedure and responded appropriately with the remediations.
The complainant was satisfied with receiving all dues and does not wish to return back to work for this factory.

2019-10-16 Resolved

This complaint has been resolved.