HAVEP, Complaint 808

There is no discrimination in employment Safe and healthy working conditions

This complaint was received first on 7 November 2019 through a local organisation (Glasen Tekstilec) and later from a worker working for a supplier producing for Havep. There were several complaints reported about the factory brigadier (supervisor of the production line) and the factory management.
The following claims were submitted:
1. 15 workers went on sick leave and the doctor treating them claimed that they had pain in their chests and respiratory problems that could be caused by the dust and uncleaned air in the factory where they worked.
2. The workers were threatened and warned that they were not allowed to comment on social media on the latest developments in the country related to the increase of the legal minimum wage and the obstructions from the factory owners who were not agreeing with it. The workers were individually called by the supervisors of the production lines and were threatened that there would be consequences for their jobs if they kept expressing their rights publicly via social networks.
3. The situation in the factory in terms of harassment by the supervisors of the production lines and bad behaviour of the owners did not change and the pressure remained.
4. Workers started working on Saturdays again and they were not allowed to use their overtime compensation as a holiday on their request.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2019-11-10 Investigation

FWF informed the FWF member Havep and they conducted an investigation in the factory. A discussion between the Havep representative in the country and the factory management was conducted. After the factory management's response, the findings were additionally discussed between FWF and the brand. Considering that the factory had a verification audit recently, the findings from the audit report were considered as a source for the investigation as well.

2019-11-14 Conclusion of the investigation

Based on the recent audit report, the complaint and the factory's response , the following conclusions were made:
- There is still a miscommunication between workers and factory management. The level of the communication gap can not be investigated in depth, but FWF can conclude that there is no written procedure regulating the processes related to leave requests, grievance procedure, disciplinary procedure, the procedure for anti-harassment, and maybe other if relevant; or if the procedure exists they are not clearly communicated to the workers, so no one is following them.
- The Trade Union representatives are not perceived as a trusted representative body by the workers due to (1) Week role of the representative (this is not selected by the workers, but it is a replacement of the previously selected one) (2) Lack of skills of TU representative; (3) Lack of trust by the workers. All this leads to a weak or not existing social dialogue.
- Working on Saturdays is present again, but FWF cannot conclude at this point whether the compensation days for OT accumulated due to working on Saturday will be compensated to the workers, as managements explained that all workers will be compensated by the end of the year (this is in line with the factory policies); Up to now there were no officially submitted leave requests (in writing) that were rejected by the management.
- According to the factory management air ventilation, pumps are cleaned during the summer holidays and the statement provided by the doctor to the workers that were using sick leave need to be verified by a written document. At this stage factory, management refuses this claim as not grounded.
- Workers still feel threatened by the supervisors of the production lines but they are not communicating individual issues to the top management level or relevant HR department, or they do not know how to communicate due to lack of internal procedures.

2019-11-18 Remediation

Based on the conclusions of the investigation, FWF proposes remediation steps that need to be closely monitored by the brand and FWF in the next two months. Following recommendations are proposed:
1. Factory management, with support from the brand, should ensure that internal procedures will be developed/ or improved the existing one. This includes a procedure that will regulate internal communication regarding the leave request (including the leave of compensation of OT); grievance procedure, disciplinary procedure, and anti harassment procedure, and/or other if it is relevant. The TU representatives should be engaged in the process and after the procedures are developed/improved they need to be clearly communicated with all workers or posted on the factory notice board. This will avoid further miscommunication and will safeguard both workers and the management in their communication.
2. The factory management should enable the environment to the workers to freely express whether they would like to re-elect the Trade Union representatives. Existing TU needs to be encouraged in attending training from the National Federation of Trade Unions (SSM). WEP training delivery from FWF could be considered as an option for increasing the awareness of workers' rights in line with FWF Code of Labour Practices (with a focus on freedom of association).
3. Management should ensure their commitment to good internal communication is in force on every management level. The factory management should organise more meetings with the supervisors of the production lines in order to identify what are the root causes for frequent absence from work and to prevent any further threats communicated to the workers. WEP training can be also considered as an option