Jack Wolfskin, Schoffel Sportbekleidung GmbH, Complaint 153

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
There is no discrimination in employment Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Resolved
DATE
2015-10-19

Complainants claimed that 11 workers had been expelled because the linemanager found teared trousers. The management then llegedly called a group of 11 workers and forced them to write a ltter of volunary resignation, without explanatin or investigation. The group of workers said they ha not made the mistake. The complainants talked with the Factory Trade Union, but it did not provide a solution. A fourth complainant alleged that her application was rejected because of her family ties to some of the other complainants.

Findings and conclusions

Complainants claimed that 11 workers had been expelled because the linemanager found teared trousers. The management then llegedly called a group of 11 workers and forced them to write a ltter of volunary resignation, without explanatin or investigation. The group of workers said they ha not made the mistake. The complainants talked with the Factory Trade Union, but it did not provide a solution. A fourth complainant alleged that her application was rejected because of her family ties to some of the other complainants.

The factory claimed that workers were dismissed because of a policythat allowes it to dismiss workers for damaging products.However, there was no evidence to prove who cut the trousers. Later, after a meeting with the complaints handlers, manager mentioned the workers had been dismissed because they had not checked the products at the end of their working day. Had they done so, they would have found the destroyed trousers. According to management this was internal regulation. However, no record of this policy was found. The factory management later claimed that this was relayed orally to the workers.

FWF found that resignation was not voluntary and that the disciplinary policy cannot be applied as a reason for dismissal because there was no proof of who destroyed the trousers and there is no written policy about checking the products at the end of the day. There was no evidence to substantiate a discrimination claim.

The members engaged with the factory and ensured that workers received dismissal compensation. FWF encouraged the brands to discuss formal disciplinar policy and factory regulation, and ensure it complies with the FWF Code of Labour Practices.The workers received 4.831.000 VND compensation. This is calculated based on basic salary and complies with the Vietnamese labor legislation. The workers, who had hoped to be rehired, were nevertheless grateful for FWF for having received compensation

Overview of the complaint investigation

2016-01-19 Investigation

The factory management referred to their disciplinary policy as reason of dismissal: if a worker destroys products on purpose, he/she either has to compensate the damages or will be dismissed. This is not in violation of the local law. The management showed a police report that was made about the case.
However, the police report does not substantiate the reason for dismissal since the police found that there was no sufficient evidence to identify who cut the trousers. The three workers that were interviewed by the police were amongst the ones that were forced to sign resignation letters. According to the workers, they had to fill in the resignation letter with leaving the box for ’reason of dismissal’ empty. Investigation showed that resignation letters state reason for dismissal ‘destroyed products’.
According to the complainants, after the discovery of the trousers the Human Resource manager and workshop department called a group of 11 workers together, working on that production line. The line manager supposedly informed the group of workers that if they know who cut the trousers, they could come to him/her. But nobody came forward.
They were then told to sign a letter of voluntary resignation, leaving the reason for resignation open. The complainants said that they were not allowed to go back to their work place to get their belongings.
The complaint handler called with the management of the factory to propose a remediation meeting. In this call the management mentioned that the workers were dismissed because they had not checked the products at the end of their working day. If they would have done so, they would have discovered the destroyed trousers.
According to the management, this checking on products at the end of a work day is a factory regulation and because these workers have violated this regulation, it would be sufficient reason to dismiss them. Following this call, FWF checked the factory regulations for dismissal and did not find
this policy mentioned. In response, the management said that the checking on the products (at the start and end of every working day) is not written down, but instructed orally to the workers.

2016-01-19 Conclusion of the investigation

The investigation concludes that resignation was not voluntary.
The factory dismissed workers without being able to proof the trousers were destroyed on purpose by (one of) the respective workers. This conclusion is shared in the police report.
The conclusion is that the disciplinary policy cannot be applied as a reason for dismissal because:
a) the factory was not able to show proof of who destroyed the trousers.
b) the so called factory regulation to check products after the work day is not written down and not part of the formal disciplinary policy.
Regarding the case of the refused applicant, FWF recognizes that there is a possibility for discrimination but could not determine this with certainty.

2016-01-19 Remediation

Fair Wear Foundation proposed a meeting between management and representatives of the workers, mediated by local FWF staff. However, the management did not want to organize this meeting. Jack Wolfskin and Schoeffel engaged with the factory and ensured that the factory paid dismissal compensation to the workers.
Fair Wear Foundation recommends the brands to discuss an appropriate formal disciplinary policy and factory regulation, and discuss that the policy and its implementation complies with the FWF Code of Labour Practices.
It is further recommended to discuss the application process and make sure that applicants are not discriminated.

2016-01-19 Verification

The workers received 4.831.000 VND compensation. This is calculated based on basic salary and complies with the Vietnamese labor legislation.

2016-01-19 Evaluation of the complaint

Even though they hoped to be rehired, the workers are grateful to FWF for having received compensation.

2016-01-19 Resolved

This complain is resolved.