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FWFs local complaints handler in China received an email through the Chinese complaints email address from a worker of a Chinese subcontractor in Italy. Following a conversation through the Chinese chat service QQ, the plaintiff complained about excessive overtime, often working more than 18 hours a day without having a consecutive day off every 7 days. In addition, the plaintiff stated they do not have medical insurance and often experience deductions from their wages. FWFs complaints handler spoke to 4 workers, who indicate their concerns are representative for the 60
Chinese colleagues working at the Chinese subcontractor.
On 8 July 2013 FWF received a complaint from a worker working in a factory supplying Nudie Jeans. The complaint relates to the labour standards ‘payment of a living wage’, ‘reasonable hours of work’ and ‘safe and healthy working conditions’, which are part of FWF’s Code of Labour Practices.
On- and off-site worker interviews are needed to establish the truthfulness of the documentation. FWFs local complaint handler will continue to get in touch with plaintiffs again to verify the complaint.
The production site where the plaintiff works is a subcontractor of a supplier that Nudie Jeans has a long relationship with and frequently visited. The site has been audited by an independent auditor (not contracted by FWF).
The plaintiffs did not want to disclose their identity out of fear for repercussions. Given the sensitivity of this, the investigation needed to take the security of workers into account. FWF and Nudie Jeans agreed to the following plan:
1. Nudie Jeans informed their supplier and agent about the complaint. Limited information was given to protect the identity of the workers. Nudie Jeans will stress the complaints mechanism is considered positive and that they are conducting random checks on conditions at Italian suppliers. FWF is supporting this work as part of our activities to review our low risk policy.
2. Nudie Jeans requested copies of pay slips of workers, the employee list of the subcontractor and medical insurance documentation.
3. FWFs liaison officer in China reviewed the documents for verification.
4. FWF and Nudie Jeans involved a Dutch fashion brand in the process that is planning to start production there.
5. Nudie Jeans has sent their auditor to visit the factory again. The company attempted to have a Chinese auditor present, but that was not feasible in the short term.
FWFs local complaints handler reviewed the documentation to check for (in) consistencies with the information received from the plaintiffs. Given that the plaintiffs were not willing to disclose their identities, FWF was not able to confirm if the plaintiffs were on the employee list sent by the factory.
Aside from a few health & safety violations, the audit conducted by Nudie Jeans did not confirm the information from the complaint. Review of the payslips and other document review did not confirm excessive overtime or deduction from wages. However, the audit did not include offsite worker interviews and given the language barriers no Chinese workers were interviewed. Two Italian workers were interviewed and one Chinese
warehouse worker who could speak basic Italian.
For those reasons FWF decided it does not have substantive results from the investigation to find the complaint grounded.
On - and off-site worker interviews are needed to establish the truthfulness of the documentation (recruitment practices, excessive working hours, compensation, accommodation deductions, forced labour with passport detention, sick leave issues). Interviews will need to be conducted in Chinese as employees do not speak Italian.
Before FWF and Nudie Jeans decide to send a Chinese auditor, the complaints handler must be able to get in contact with the plaintiffs again to verify the issues found during the audit and to confirm the plaintiffs are on the employee list provided by the subcontractor. To date, efforts to this end have not yet succeeded.
No offsite worker interviews could be conducted to verify this complaint. FWFs local complaint handler will continue to get in touch with the plaintiffs again.
This complaint is closed.