Nudie Jeans Co., Complaint 146

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

From May-June 2015 to June-July 2016 a total of 8 workers have been dismissed/terminated by the factory and out of this 6 approached FWF to register their complaints in January and July 2016.
The complainants claim that they were given this severe punishment of dismissal based on petty issues; most of them on charges of engaging in conflicts (verbal, no physical violence) with co-workers. In all cases but one, both the workers engaged in conflict were dismissed/terminated. The complainants claim that they were not given opportunity to defend themselves and to prove that they were not guilty. No formal legal procedures were followed for disciplinary action and termination/dismissal.
Based on above arguments the complainants claimed that the immediate reasons of dismissals/terminations were not the actual reasons of dismissals/terminations. They claim that those dismissed/terminated were identified and targeted well before by the management on the basis of two factors: a) those alleged for engaging in unionisation efforts and those who opposed the unjust behaviour of supervisors to them or to other workers; and b) those who frequently denied to work overtime in late hours (beyond 18:00).

Findings and conclusions

Between May 2015 and July 2016, 8 workers were dismissed or terminated by the factory. Six of them approached FWF with a complaint between January and July 2016.
The complainants claim that they were dismissed for small violations such as engaging in verbal conflict with co-workers. They claim that they were unable to defend themselves from the allegations, and that the disciplinary action did not follow formal legal procedures. They further allege that the real reasons they were dismissed from their job was that they had supposedly engaged in unionisation efforts, or that they frequently refused to work overtime after 18:00.
During investigation, already in January 2016, FWF was unable to reach a conclusion, as management claimed workers left on their own volition. The first complaint was closed, but other workers came forward in July 2016, sharing similar stories. Upon further investigation in July 2016, a pattern of common issues was found which showed that the factory did not follow legal procedures and payment requirements when dismissing/terminating workers. FWF recommended to work on these structural issues, but also to re-assess the individual cases of each complainant.
In a meeting between FWF, Nudie Jeans and the factory in December 2016, management could show some progress on structural issues and agreed to schedule indiviual mediation meetings with FWF to settle the complaint cases. Later management went back on this agreement. FWF was unable to verify further remediation since then and no progress has been reached on the individual cases. This complaint is closed.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2016-07-30 Investigation

FWF received one initial complaint regarding this case in January 2016. During the investigation, FWF was however unable to reach a final conclusion which version was correct; management claiming that the worker left on her own wish or the worker claiming that she had been dismissed.
The complaint was closed, but then several other workers who had heard about FWF during the first investigation also called the FWF hotline in July 2016 sharing similar stories as the worker who complained in January. After receiving these calls, FWF sent a team for a second investigation in July. During this investigation interviews were conducted with all complainants (except for one who was not available), four neutral workers still working in the factory (two lastly chose not to come forward for interviews), one former worker, and the management. Relevant documents were also checked to verify the facts and see the legality of the process of disciplinary actions. The investigation team also tried to contact two other dismissed workers, who had not registered a complaint, but were unable to reach them.

2017-02-02 Closed

Since the relationship between the brand and the factory was ended, Fair Wear was unable to follow up with the complainants. This complaint is closed.

2017-03-02 Remediation

While the management agreed during the meeting in December to plan individual mediation meetings with the complainants to discuss their cases, they later stated that they are not willing to do so anymore. Nudie Jeans has tried to discuss this case with factory management and to see if a remediation meeting could be an option, but they are still not willing to discuss the case or to meet FWF to have a remediation meeting.

2017-03-02 Verification

FWF was unable to verify further remediation since then and no progress has been reached on the indivual cases.