Hydrowear B.V., Complaint 816

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining Safe and healthy working conditions

There are 3 female and 1 male staff in the embroidery unit where the complainant works. There is no CC TV camera in the embroidery unit. The window is covered with heavy curtains and there is almost no visibility from outside. Men from all the other departments come and gather there for regular chit chats throughout almost the whole the day. They purposely use filthy and abusive language to harass the women. The manager demonstrates similar behaviour and the union only listens to the manager. The complainant feels there is no point in raising their complaint with factory management. Three women had complained before but they were dismissed after they made the complaint. During the recent training by Fair Wear Foundation, the complainant thought of making a complaint to Fair Wear but did not get a chance to do so.

The complainant raised an issue with toilet facilities as well. There are not enough toilet for the staff, no separate toilet for women and the toilets are not clean. The complainant fears losing their job if factory management comes to know his/her identity.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2020-01-06 Investigation

The complaint was shared with the brand, and brand in turn shared it with the factory management. Factory management refuted the complaint, saying that this serious allegation against the Manager/Management and other co-worker is completely baseless and unfounded as the factory employs 41% female workers. Furthermore, factory management stated that they have been working like this for many years without any complaints. Management also state that they have a suggestions/complaints box in the factory and that there is a anti-harassment committee (as required per law) and this issue has not been raised through either of these channels. Finally, factory management stated that there is an active union, which is formed by the workers and is always there to support the workers. They further added management has not dismissed anyone without a proper inquiry and the union's consent.

Management mentioned that noise level inside the embroidery room is near to 80 decibels and hence not a suitable place for chit chats as claimed in the complaint. Management furthermore stated that workers are not given permission to enter this room without valid reason.

Regarding the sanitary facilities, factory management stated that the number of toilets available is sufficient as per local law. Factory management claimed that the toilets are cleaned twice a day and a log is maintained to keep track of this.

But as a way forward the factory was willing to:
1. Install a CCTV camera inside the embroidery room by 8 January 2020, so that they can verify and monitor unwanted gatherings of male workers there.
2. To always keep the curtain of the window open
3. To prepare a toilet cleaning chart/register, which shall be reviewed during the union meeting every quarter, to verify the twice daily twice cleaning of the toilets.

2020-01-12 Conclusion of the investigation

The complainant confirmed that the curtains of the workshop were removed and factory management has initiated the installation process of the CCTV. The complainant furthermore confirmed that there was no harassment.

The previous audit report of the factory was checked even though it had taken place in December 2017. The report did not mention the insufficient number of toilets. Also, from the perspective of workers it was mentioned that they were aware of the union formation and their intentions to raise worker wages and regulate dismissals.

2020-01-13 Resolved

Since it was be verified with the complainant that CCTV was installed, the curtains were removed and no more harassment took place, this aspect of the case is considered resolved.

However, the number of toilets and union activities will be checked during the next Fair Wear audit.