Engelbert Strauss GmbH & Co. KG, Jack Wolfskin, LK International AG (Kjus), Mammut Sports Group AG, ODLO International AG, Schoffel Sportbekleidung GmbH, VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG, W.A.R.D. GmbH (Iriedaily), Complaint 786

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Employment is freely chosen There is no discrimination in employment Payment of a living wage Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Resolved
DATE
2019-09-23

The complainant sent an email to complain he/she received unfair treatment while working at the factory. He/she is an electrician from the logistics department. He/she filed the following complaints:

1. He/she is an electrician, but the factory required him to do painting, maintenance and other trivial tasks. He/she did not know factory's reason for this, but he/she felt that the factory intended to force him to resign from factory.
2. His colleagues were able to take on overtime hours, however he/she was not able to arrange to do any overtime hours at all. As a result, he/she did not have overtime premiums and other bonuses and therefore received a lower wage than his colleagues. He/she claimed the factory did this in order to make him feel uncomfortable so that he/she would resign from factory on his own initiative.
3. He/she complained twice to the HR department about his/her unfair treatment in this job, but no one took the complaint seriously. Since he/she made the complaints, his/her immediate supervisor treated him/her even worse than before.
4. The complainant was expelled out of the factory at around 20:00 on the 20 September 2019 by the factory because he/she took some pictures of his colleagues when they were working.

The complainant's requests:
1. The factory should tell him/her the exact reasons why he/she was expelled from the factory. The factory should also explain why he/she was requested to do other work (painting, maintenance etc) which do not fall within his/her duties as an electrician.
2. The factory shall follow the legal procedure to terminate their working relationship with him/her, paying all due wages to him/her as well as the severance amount.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2019-09-24 Investigation

Fair Wear reached out to the brands which source in this factory and asked them to reach out to the factory to investigate further.

2019-09-30 Investigation

The complainant reached out to Fair Wear with an update about his case:
1. He received a letter from the factory requesting him to return to work on 30 September 2019. If he/she does not return to work on 30 September, the factory will regard this as absenteeism and can therefore follow the factory rules and terminate its working relationship with him/her.
2. The complainant returned to work on 30 September. However, the factory did not let him/her take his/her mobile phone inside the factory. He/She is also still limited to the hours of overtime he/she can work. Therefore, although his/her job provides 8 hours a day 5 days a week, without any overtime hours, the complainant can only make the local minimum wage while he/she works at the factory. As mentioned by the complainant, after the deduction of social security, he/she makes only RMB 1200 per month. As a result of this, he/she mentioned that he/she was forced to quit on his own initiative due to the low income.

2019-09-30 Remediation

1. If the factory paid the complainant the local minimum wage for 40 hours per week, then this is in compliance with the law. Fair Wear suggested that it is checked whether the complainant is indeed paid the legal minimum wage, and whether he will be paid the wages due if he were to resign. The complainant cannot appeal to request overtime hours or extra bonuses.
2. The factory does not have the legal right to prohibit the complainant from bringing his mobile phone to the factory.
3. If the complainant wishes to resign, he must be paid the wages he is due. If the worker doesn’t wish to resign, and if he doesn’t work more than 40 hours a week, he must accept the minimum wage. Then the management and supervisor should treat him as usual.

2019-10-01 Remediation

The brands suggested that the following information be requested from the factory:
1) The contract of the worker in order to check if any or what kind of detailed job description is given
2) Ask on which basis the factory makes the decision on who is the first to be asked to do overtime
3) Ask for work time records of this worker and the other electricians
With this information and evidence, we can better judge if the allegations of the complainant are grounded.
The brands also questioned whether the complainant was prohibited from bringing his mobile phone to work, and if so, if this is a general rule which can be seen in the company policy of the factory, or if this restriction occurred only to the complainant. If it was only in the case of this single complainant, the factory must specify a reason why this happened.

2019-10-08 Verification

The factory responded with the following:
As an electrician, the complainant is responsible for reporting on and repairing problems with the electricity, which he did not do. Furthermore, no painting work was requested of the complainant, nor was he asked to carry out building work. CCTV records show that other workers were carrying out these tasks, and not him. The CCTV records also show that the facility provided PPE to workers including him.
The complainant had negotiated with the HR department several times. On the first occasion, the complainant wanted the factory to dismiss him in order for him to receive economic compensation, however the HR supervisor indicated that the factory was obeying the rules and that they hoped he would continue working as usual. Moreover, the supervisor of warehouse conducted an internal personnel transfer for his wife who worked as QC to the warehouse, and the transfer was agreed by his wife. The wage of working in the label warehouse was higher than her previous role as QC.

2019-10-16 Verification

Fair Wear was informed that the factory had contacted the labour arbitration committee to dismiss the employee and suggested to wait for the outcome and final verdict of this case.

2019-10-17 Conclusion of the investigation

The case was confirmed by the factory and the factory finally contacted the labour arbitration committee to dismiss the employee.

2019-10-30 Remediation

The factory intended to deal with this case with the labour arbitration committee, however the complainant gave up this chance and voluntarily agreed to accept a compensation of RMB 45,000.-by cancellation of his contract. The factory provided the contract cancellation and proof of payment of the compensation to the complainant.
Judging from the documents, the factory and the complainant reached an agreement on the below 3 points.
1. They terminated the working relationship according to law.
2. The complainant received a severance of 45,000.- RMB.
3. The complainant received the last two months' salary (Sept and Oct 2019).

2019-10-30 Evaluation of the complaint

Fair Wear has sent these documents to the complainant for further verification, who then confirmed the receipt of RMB 45,000.- as severance pay, and the termination of working relationship with this factory.
The wage of September 2019 was paid to him fully, and as the complainant confirmed he was only in the factory for only 1 hour in October 2019 his wage for October 2019 was therefore 0.

2019-10-31 Resolved

Fair Wear reached out to the complainant for further verification, and the complainant confirmed the proper receipt of the compensation. This complaint has been resolved