Mini Rodini AB, Complaint 185

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Payment of a living wage Safe and healthy working conditions Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Verification
DATE
2016-09-22

The complainant claimed that he was dismissed by the HR team because he
complained to the Managing Director about a grievance he had with his attendance
bonus.
According to the complainant, he has been working with the factory for the last
1.9 years. He punched in to work at 11.07 am on 16th August 2016 and he was
told since he was late it would be considered as a half day. When he looked at
the salary slip at the end of the month he was not paid attendance bonus. At first
he went to the HR team, which explained that it was a discrepancy from the
team and would be paid the following month. However, the next day he was called again and informed by HR that they will not give out the bonus. So he
went to the Managing Director and mentioned his grievance. The Managing
Director asked the HR team to intervene and get the issue sorted. When the
complainant went to work on 16th September he was told by HR that they have
sent a dismissal letter by post and told him that he should not have spoken to
the Managing Director.
In addition to his grievance, the complainant shared that there was a new rule in
the factory that all women had to punch in before 9 am. In case they are late
they were made to stand at the gate for around 15 minutes and then the HR
would come and shout at them for late coming. The complainant has raised his
voice against this issue saying that sometimes due to traffic workers would be
late, which led to an argument between him and an HR representative.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2016-10-11 Investigation

FWF informed Mini Rodini about the case. Mini Rodini requested feedback from the
supplier, which was provided.

2016-11-11 Conclusion of the investigation

The complainant is suffering from a medical condition (a diagnosis report from a
public hospital was documented) that could result in aggressive behavior if
medication was not taken regularly. He visited a state hospital once a month for
check-ups and was permitted by management to arrive late to work (before 11
AM) for these occasions. FWF could verify this in the attendance records.
According to management, the worker did never inform management in advance
about these dates (as required by factory policy).
- According to works committee members, the floor manager and interviewed
workers, he was generally considered to be a good worker, but occasionally
used rude language, mainly toward supervisors, but not co-workers (according
to one worker). One worker said the complainant would not complete the targets
given and would argue with the supervisor for giving high targets. A works
committee member stated the complainant would ask new joinees not to work a
lot (or complete the target) and if a supervisor scolds them (new joinees) then
they should come and inform the complainant. His personnel file included three
anonymous complaint against the complainant received through the complaint
box and one of it stated that he instigates new workers to not obey the rules of
the factory.
- Committee members, line manager and the managing director all shared that on
the day when the complainant was refused the bonus payment, he reacted
verbally aggressive and would not listen anyone trying to calm him down.
- His personnel file included a warning letter from July 2016. According to the
letter, the complainant had an argument with a supervisor and picked up a chair
to hit him. Once other workers/supervisors came to the scene, he controlled
himself and sat on that same chair. The warning letter was issued to him after
that incident but there was no signature of the worker. Upon asking the HR
manager said that the complainant did not accept his mistake and hence did not
take this letter.
 FWF concludes that the complainant had been aggressive in the past due to
his medical condition and possibly posed a threat or at least disturbance to
other employees. Due to lack of information, FWF is unable to conclude
whether the complainant has undertaken sufficient steps to control his
condition. Management had warned the employee at least once and also
enabled him to seek regular medical attention.
- Committee members stated that if workers arrive after 9.10am, they are given a
Permission Slip which has to be signed by the supervisor, Production Manager
and the HR. The worker has to state the reason for their delay and then they
can attend. Workers are not shouted at if they are late. Frequent defaulters are
warned but not shouted at. No worker is asked to wait out of the gate for coming
late. The committee members added that all workers are informed about the
policy of late coming.
- According to the HR every workers is informed about the policy and the punitive
action for late coming (deduction of attendance bonus) at the time of inducting a
worker.
- The notice board displayed the Standing Order of the factory in Kannada. The
Standing Order mentioned the factory timings and the rule to take leave.
However, there was no mention of the punitive action if workers came late.
- HR manager stated that the complainant never took prior permission for coming
late the following day. He would just come in late but the management never
reprimanded him. On the said date he came at 11.07am and this was not
accompanied by any leave letter so it went as half day in the pay slip and hence
attendance bonus was cut.
FWF concludes that the factory has a policy in place that is compliant with the
FWF Code of Labour Practices and Indian legislation. While the Standing Order
does not include a mention of punitive action, FWF concludes that workers were
generally informed about this rule since it was regular practice in the factory and
all works committee members were aware of the rule. While the attendance
bonus as a voluntary payment may be deducted, management must ensure that
regular wage payments are never reduced as part of punitive action. In the case
of the complainant, the deduction of the attendance bonus is in accordance with
the policy. The claim that workers are verbally abused if they arrive late cannot
be confirmed based on the investigation.
- Management explained that they felt they did not have another option than to
terminate the contract after the second incident (when the complainant reacted
aggressively about the deduction of his attendance bonus). As the complainant
was unwilling to accept the termination of his contract, the letter was sent per
mail. The worker has not yet approached management to receive his full and
final payment. The calculation by management includes notice pay, but no
retrenchment compensation.
- According to Indian legislation, factory management must conduct a formal
domestic inquiry where the employee is able to defend himself if management
wishes to terminate a contract due to disciplinary action. If this procedure is not
followed, a worker can be dismissed nevertheless, but must receive notice pay
and retrenchment compensation (see Industrial Disputes Act, 1947)

FWF concludes that a domestic inquiry was not held. It is acknowledged
that it was difficult for management to follow this procedure partly due to the
workers non-cooperative behavior. As the procedure for contract termination
for misconduct was not followed, the worker can only be legally dismissed if
he receives notice pay and retrenchment compensation.

2016-11-15 Remediation

FWF recommends the following remediation steps:
- The complainant must receive his full and final payment, which should include
notice pay and retrenchment compensation as per the Indian Industrial Disputes
Act, 1947.
- The Standing Order must include an explanation about punitive action in case of
late arrival. This should be displayed in the factory and communicated to all
workers.
- Factory management must ensure that legal procedures are always followed if
disciplinary actions, especially contract terminations, are taken.
- The factory should consider developing a policy to cooperate with workers that
are affected by medical conditions that might impact their behavior or
performance at work. While the safety of all employees needs to be considered,
management should support affected workers as much as possible.

2016-11-16 Investigation

To collect additional information, a representative of FWF visited the factory on 16th November to conduct an investigation. The managing director, HR staff, four members of the works committee, six randomly selected workers as well as the floor manager was interviewed. The standing order of the factory, the notice board and the personnel file of the complainant were checked as well.
FWF also interviewed Garment Labour Union (GLU), who had initially been assisting the worker independently from FWF’s complaint investigation. The contact between the worker and GLU ended in early November. GLU stated that the worker was not willing to cooperate sufficiently with them. He has since approached a lawyer and filed a complaint with the labour court. Factory management stated that they attended a court hearing in the third week of November, but the complainant did not attend. FWF is unable to verify the current status of the court procedure.

2018-06-20 Verification

FWF called the complainant to check the status. The complainant has not received payment from the factory. He is pursuing his case in the labour court.
All other remediation points will verified in the next audit at the factory.