LK International AG (Kjus), Complaint 214

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining Legally binding employment relationship

The complainant claimed that she and 12 other workers were dismissed from the factory after they had registered the new trade union with factory management. In addition, the new trade union claimed that it was unable to perform its activities within the factory.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2017-01-02 Investigation

The FWF representative for Indonesia was made aware of these allegations through its trade union network. The representative informed Kjus and subsequently met with both the complainant as well as factory management to discuss the allegations, gather information and attempt to negotiate a resolution. When this was unsuccessful, the complainant and trade union officially filed a complaint with FWF’s complaints mechanism.
After the complaint was filed with FWF, the FWF representative worked together with the local FWF complaints handler to investigate the complaint based on interviews, documentation and legal consultation.
FWF also contacted the Fair Labor Association (FLA), as one of its members had also conducted an investigation into this particular complaint earlier in 2016. This contact resulted in Kjus and the FLA member collaborating on the investigation and remediation of the complaint.

2018-01-08 Conclusion of the investigation

Both factory management and complainant indicated that the complainant was the leader of the factory-level trade union. As incumbent trade union leader, she lost the election to a challenger in the first half of 2016. Some time after losing the election, the complainant filed a new factory-level trade union with the district Ministry of Manpower office. The organisational chart of this new trade union included the names of the complainant as well as the 12 other employees previously mentioned in this report. The complainant and 12 other workers were soon after dismissed from the factory.

The information and documentation on the exact sequence of events that were provided by the complainant and factory management differ significantly, making it difficult to ascertain the context which led to the establishment of a second trade union as well as the dismissal of the complainant and 12 other workers.

For this reason, the investigation into the complaint focused on two main issues:
• The ability of the new trade union to operate freely in the factory;
• The legality of the dismissal of the complainant and 12 other employees.

The new trade union was able to show that it was legally registered with the district Ministry of Manpower office. It was, however, hampered in its ability to perform its activities at a factory level as the factory did not acknowledge its existence and only allowed limited activities after some time.

In terms of the dismissal of the complainant and 12 other employees, FWF was able to ascertain that the 12 workers all accepted the compensation proposed by factory management. The complainant, however, refused to accept the compensation proposal, indicating her belief that she was wrongfully dismissed and wanted to be re-employed at the factory. Due to this refusal, the District Ministry of Manpower initiated a mediation process that ultimately resulted in a ruling that the factory should pay compensation to the complainant, but that she was not allowed to return to the factory. This ruling, however, is not binding and was rejected by the complainant. An appeal has been made to the national Ministry of Manpower, who instructed the new head of the District Ministry of Manpower to open an investigation into this case, which has not yet been finalised.

2018-01-09 Remediation

Kjus and the FLA member brand worked together on the resolution of this complaint. During a conference call with factory management, the factory was strongly urged to rehire the 13 dismissed workers and allow the new trade union to operate freely. In addition to this, preventive measures needed to be taken to ensure that this would not happen again. The factory agreed to implement the remediation steps as indicated by the FLA member brand.

2018-01-15 Verification

All thirteen workers were offered a position at the factory. According to the most recent count, eight workers were also working at the factory. The other five initially did not agree to the employment offer due to some unclarity about whether or not compensation payments would have to be paid back or not.

2018-01-15 Evaluation of the complaint

The workers in the factory were happy to be back working at the factory.

2018-01-15 Resolved

The complaint has been resolved.