Odd Molly International AB, Complaint 526

Payment of a living wage Reasonable hours of work Legally binding employment relationship

On 18 October 2018, workers were told by management that they had to go to work on 19 October as well, which is a big festival day (Dusshera) in the region and a state holiday. The workers of two lines went to management and asked to be allowed to enjoy the Dusshera holiday but they were bluntly told that if they did not want to work, they could take their full and final payment and leave the job. Management said that if they wanted to keep the job, they had to report on duty whenever asked, such as working 19 October as it was urgent. Left with no other option, one worker called FWF's complaints helpline. This required urgent action as the factory cannot compel workers to do overtime on a festival holiday.

Other issues reported
1. Almost all, if not all, workers were engaged through contractors.
2. There was a periodic break in service so that there were very few workers who had continuous service of more than 3 years. According to the complainant, management asked workers who had completed 2-3 years of continuous service to resign and they were then rehired as fresh workers. This meant that they would not be eligible for gratuity.
3. According to the complainant s/he has been in the company for about 10 years, but continuity of service is only for 2 years, because his service was discontinued in between (he has to write resignation as asked by the management whenever his service was discontinued)
4. Any worker who even appears to be raising their voice are immediately terminated. In such cases they are not given any legal benefits like notice pay and retrenchment compensation; they get only wages for days worked, bonus and earned leave
6. The company is giving very high targets (about 30-40 pieces) and if anyone is not able to complete, he has to compulsorily do overtime to complete it. They also receive threatening—that they may lose job if not working efficiently in terms of completing the targets. It is not that workers do not want to do overtime but sometimes they do not want, but in such situations they are compelled to do.
7. Overtime is generally up to 10pm, but sometimes goes up to 12.30am
8. Overtime payment is only at single hourly rate of wages
9. Out of fear of losing job, the workers dare not reveal the issues before the auditors or any outsiders. According to the complainant, the fear among workers is such that even in interviews outside the factory, workers may not dare to reveal truth if there are other workers nearby.

Findings and conclusions

On 18th October, one day before the festival of Dusshera (one of the big festivals of India) few workers called to say that they have been asked to come for work the next day by the management. Upon investigation into the case Fair Wear found that Dusshera was not in the list of sanctioned holidays for this factory hence the factory management was well placed in asking workers to come for work on 19th October, on Dusshera.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2018-10-18 Investigation

Fair Wear shared the complaint with the brand the same day and the brand contacted the factory the very next day. Factory shared the list of approved holiday for the factory with brand which was sanctioned by appropriate state authority. Brand shared the list of holidays with Fair Wear on 29th Oct.

2018-10-30 Conclusion of the investigation

Upon checking the list of holidays Fair Wear concluded that the factory management had the permission of keeping the factory open on Dusshera day as it was not in the holiday list. Apparently workers were not properly communicated about this list and the fact that the factory would remain open because this festival was not included in factory's list of holidays.

2018-10-30 Resolved

The factory was right in keeping the factory open on Dusshera day (19th Oct) as it was not in the list of holidays that they got approved/sanctioned. It appears that the workers were not adequately communicated about the holiday list hence they mistook 19th as a holiday as well because it is one of the important festivals. So the individual case is rested.
The structural issues raised by the complainant will be checked during the verification audit planned for later 2019.