Nudie Jeans Co., Complaint 83

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Payment of a living wage Safe and healthy working conditions Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Closed
DATE
2014-04-29

The complainant claimed that he has only received employment contracts for 1 or 2 months. Furthermore, he was suspended from his work and the manager has threatened to not renew his contract. Finally, the worker claims that his manager shouts at and offends workers.

Findings and conclusions

On 29 April FWF received a complaint through its local complaints handler in Tunisia of a worker, working for a factory supplying Nudie Jeans. The complaint related to the labour standards ‘Legally-binding employment relationship’ and ‘Safe and healthy working conditions’ which are part of FWF’s Code of Labour Practices.

The complainant claimed that he has only received employment contracts for 1 or 2 months. Furthermore, he was suspended from his work and the manager has threatened to not renew his contract. Finally, the worker claims that his manager shouts at and offends workers. The factory has indicated that in general there is a problem with dialogue and communication between workers and management, as well as the issue of short-term contracts, which is common in Tunisia.

Four concrete actions were outlined by factory management as a response to the complain. With regards to the short-term contracts, further remediation is necessary as the use of these contracts is widespread in the Tunisian garment sector, and therefore FWF must work together with brands and local partners to investigate the root cause and propose remediation of this issue on a national level. As a first step towards remediation, Nudie Jeans is recommended to discuss the issue of short-term contracts with factory management and communicate the desire to have this practice ended and to enroll the factory in FWF’s Workplace Education Programme.

The worker indicated that he is still employed in the factory and satisfied with the
remediation of his work situation0

Overview of the complaint investigation

2014-07-01 Investigation

FWF has informed Nudie Jeans about the case. Nudie Jeans contacted the supplier and asked for a reply within one week. FWF also contacted the complainant on April 29, 2014 to provide more information on whether his contract was renewed and to investigate if he had involved the trade union. He was again contacted on June 18th to inquire about his situation.
Following a visit by a representative from Nudie Jeans, a reply from the factory was received.
Around the same period as the complaint, a three-day strike occurred at the factory. FWF also investigated what the Tunisian labour law says about short-term labour contracts.

2014-07-01 Conclusion of the investigation

The factory has indicated that in general there is a problem with dialogue and communication between workers and management, including verbal abuse, (sexual) harassment and nepotism.
The most recent audit in November 2012 showed issues with short-term contracts: Workers sign many contracts for a period of one month which is an insecure social situation.
Investigation by the local complaints handler showed that the complainant did get his short-term contract renewed. The complainant also indicated that the trade union was involved in limiting the worker’s suspension to 3 days.
The issue of short-term contracts is something that is common in Tunisia. Employers feel that in order to motivate workers and keep them from becoming less productive, they get workers to sign short-term contracts of 1-3 months. Legally, employers are allowed to issue fixed-term contracts for a maximum of 48 months, after which a contract
becomes permanent.
Local stakeholders indicate that the labour law is somewhat unclear when it comes to the practice of these short-term contracts. What is clear, however, is that use of shortterm contracts was intended for specific, seasonal employment and not for year-round employment such as found in a garment factory. It also has the effect of placing workers
in an insecure employment situation.
The next Social Forum (most likely taking place at the end of 2014) between trade unions and the employers’ organization is expected to deal with this issue.
For this reason, FWF finds that the use of short-term contracts is undesirable in garment factories and must be addressed by factory and brand.

2014-07-01 Remediation

In the minutes of a management meeting held in response to the complaint, 4 actions were outlined by factory management:
- Provide better information on wages to workers;
- Have weekly meetings with management and supervisors to address workers’ complaints;
- Establish a program to provide social occasions and leisure for workers and their children;
- Organize training sessions for management and supervisors on how to deal with stress and pressure on the job.
For the specific situation of the complainant, after discussing the problem directly with the director, the director apologized to the worker. It was also decided to have the worker change teams and therefore have a different manager.
As a response to the three-day strike at the factory, the workers received some more benefits such as more money for the purchase of work shoes as well as a risk premium. Workers indicated that the director has made an effort to communicate directly with workers, and a party was organized at the factory for the workers.
With regards to the short-term contracts, further remediation is necessary. The use of short-term contracts is widespread in the Tunisian garment sector, and therefore FWF must work together with brands and local partners to investigate the root cause and propose remediation of this issue on a national level.
As a first step towards remediation, Nudie Jeans is recommended to discuss the issue of short-term contracts with factory management and communicate the desire to have this practice ended.
Secondly, it is recommended to enroll the factory in FWF’s Workplace Education Programme to train workers and management on effective communication and dialogue processes.

2014-07-01 Verification

FWF is scheduled to perform a verification audit at this factory in September. This audit will provide more insight into the social compliance situation at the factory and if the management response has made the situation better. It will also indicate if the use of short-term contracts is still widespread.

2014-07-01 Evaluation of the complaint

The worker indicated that he is still employed in the factory and satisfied with the remediation of his work situation.

2014-07-01 Closed

This complaint is closed.