Hess Natur-Textilien GmbH, Triaz GmbH, Complaint 33

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Reasonable hours of work
STATUS
Closed
DATE
2013-03-29

Plaintiff complained about excessive overtime. During 2013, FWF received several messages from different workers complaining about excessive overtime. According to the plaintiff, monthly overtime hours exceed over 80 to 100 hours. They often work until 21:00 – midnight and are not always 1 day off during weekends.

Findings and conclusions

On 27 March 2013 a complaint was received by FWF through its local complaints handler in China, filed by a worker of a factory supplying Hessnatur and Triaz. The complaint was related to FWF’s labour standards ‘reasonable hours of work’.

In both March and April FWF received a complaint from a worker about forced excessive overtime. Factory management admitted to overtime due to the fact that the factory had to catch up with production tasks because of the 9 day-off period after Chinese New Year. After considering all findings, FWF concluded excessive overtime took place in the factory. The case indicates there is no efficient production planning that can manage regular reasonable working hours. FWF suggested that the factory would benefit from a training on dispute handling in the workplace and recommended a WEP training at the supplier, which then took place on 10 July 2013. Despite several attempts, FWF has not been able to get in touch with the plaintiff again to receive an update after the WEP training was conducted, the complaint is thus closed.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2013-12-01 Investigation

On 27 March 2013 FWF’s complaints handler in China received an anonymous message from a worker. The worker complained about forced excessive overtime.
On 1 April 2013 our complaints handler received another message from the same worker. The worker stated that people have to do overtime work until 11:30 PM in recent weeks. On 2 recent days workers had to continue work until 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM in the morning. This would mean that workers would have worked shifts of almost 24 hours.
According to the plaintiff there is a lot of dismay among workers but there is fear to enter a discussion with management. The plaintiff indicated in general terms that excessive overtime has especially been a problem in the past couple of weeks because of Chinese New Year.
On 2 April 2013 FWF contacted Triaz and Hess Natur and asked to analyse its own production planning to investigate whether order deliveries could have affected the situation.
Triaz and Hess Natur checked their orders and delivery dates from the last six months from the factory. From this data there was no time pressure found.
On 8 April, the factory manager contacted FWF on his own initiative. The factory manager had checked the attendance records and admitted there has been overtime work as the factory had to catch up with production tasks because of the 9 day-off period after Chinese New Year. According to the factory manager workers could make their own decisions if they want to do overtime work. The factory manager also mentioned that there was only one night that workers worked until 1:00-2:00 AM. According to the factory manager there was no case of work until 7:00 AM.
The factory manager emphasized that he would like to encourage his workers to use the communication channels in the factory.
FWF received the factory’s attendance records of February and March 2013, which were analysed by FWF’s Chinese Liaison Officer.

2013-12-01 Conclusion of the investigation

After considering all findings, FWF concluded excessive overtime took place in the factory. It seems there is no basis to conclude mandatory overtime at the factory.
However, the case indicates there is no efficient production planning that can manage regular reasonable working hours. The factory could have anticipated better on Chinese New Year.

2013-12-01 Remediation

FWF suggested that the factory would benefit from a training on dispute handling in the workplace and recommended a WEP training at the supplier of Triaz and Hess Natur.
Both agreed to plan a WEP training. The WEP training took place on 10 July 2013 and focused on overtime and planning.
Corrective action for both affiliates is to continue monitoring the working hours at the factory and continue to make progress towards reducing excessive overtime. The Affiliates should support the factory in efficient production planning.

2013-12-01 Verification

FWF will verify Hess natur’s and Triaz’s production planning and efforts to reduce excessive overtime during next performance checks. A verification audit is planned for 2014.

2013-12-01 Evaluation of the complaint

Despite several attempts, FWF has not been able to get in touch with the plaintiff again to receive an update after the WEP training was conducted.

2013-12-01 Closed

This complain is closed.