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On 29 March 2020, Fair Wear received a complaint from Clean Clothes Campaign's urgent appeal coordinator about addressing non-compliances with the Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices at Odlo International factory in Romania.
The initial claim addressed that workers felt unsafe working in the factory in the middle of the emergency crises due to COVID-19 world pandemic. Workers reported to Clean Clothes Campaign that they felt unsafe going to work without providing appropriate protective equipment (in particular face masks and disposable gloves) which can prevent spreading the Covid 19 virus among the workplace. At the same time, workers addressed the risk they are facing when using unsafe transport in order to reach their working place. Due to the governmental restricted measures for prevention of virus spreading, the public transport was reportedly stopped in the city and neighbouring villages. As a consequence, workers must organise themselves to go to the factory, using unsafe transportation (e.g. car sharing not respecting distance between passengers).
In addition, workers informed that they were unable to take medical leaves.
Fair Wear immediately addressed the complaint to the member and required with a high level of urgency to provide feedback from the factory management to inform on what measures have been taken to protect the workers in COVID -19 emergency. Due to the pandemic situation in the respective country, Fair Wear adjusted the regular investigation process and required already from brand firstly to provide an explanation on implemented emergency risk plan including the procedures for the prevention, control and surveillance in the factory. In addition, Fair Wear local team made an effort to reach to the workers' representatives but with no result in the first days. Country specific information on COVID 19 preventive measures on Romania was consulted and measures were communicated with the member.
Member brand clarified that due to the coronavirus pandemic, Odlo established a COVID 19 task force and a detailed emergency risk plan was implemented with procedures for the prevention, control and surveillance in the factory.
Fair Wear member informed that in the factory all employees are allowed to take their medical leave, and there have not received any complaints to the factory management in this regard.
Based on the country-specific information on extended health and safety preventive measure it has to be noted that wearing a mask is not a requirement from authorities. From the information shared by the member however, it appears that protective material is sufficiently available for those who want to use it. On the transport to the factory, the information was not conclusive.
Fair Wear member was asked to communicate proactively with the production location to ensure the necessary steps are being taken, specifically on 1. Protective equipment and ensuring hygiene, a safe distance at the workplace 2. Safe transportation 3. Solution-oriented dialogue with workers.
The information collected over the urgent investigation on the brand and factory level about the factory workers management dialogue was considered as not sufficient as Fair Wear proposed to ODLO to follow the Fair Wear COVID 19 Guidance and to provide clarity especially on the exact measures that ensure the safety of the commuting workers during their travel to and from work. Fair Wear believes that without clarity and effective solution on whether workers can travel safe, it is not safe to ask them to come.
The initial investigation included information provided by the Fair Wear member brand and the factory management. Fair Wear local team attempted to reach out to the workers as to verify the obtained information, but due to the COVID 19 situation it was with no result initially. At this point, the conclusions of the investigation are not possible, and the Fair Wear will continue their effort in reaching the works for more clarification.
Fair Wear require from the factory to provide a mechanism to address questions from workers. Workers must have access to worker representation to collectively respond to measures or to raise issues. Employers have a responsibility to inform workers of relevant information concerning the Coronavirus.
Due to the urgency of the situation related to the COVID 19 outbreak, Fair Wear member undertook immediate actions and two meetings with worker representatives were organised in order to address the complaint.
On the first meeting held on 1st April, contingency plan (shared beginning of March 2020) and all actions were taken by Odlo Romania to ensure health and safety of workers with regards to COVID19 have summarised again. The objective of the meeting was to ensure clarity of the status to all workers. Workers involvement was ensured during the meeting, and a second meeting with the management was agreed for the next day after the worker representatives collect feedback from individual workers on addressed issues over the complaint. Within the course of the day worker representatives individually discussed with all commuting workers on possible solutions for safe transportation to and from work, and collected feedback from workers regarding concerns on their safety due to COVID 19, hygiene measurements, PPE, etc. Worker representatives had a meeting on April 1st to discuss individual cases etc.
After the first meeting, Clean Clothes Campaign urgent appeal coordinator informed that they felt the outcome was not satisfactory for workers.
On 2 April the second meeting took place where the worker's representatives presented workers observations with the management. Individual discussions with all commuting workers from every department informed that there are in total of 137 workers using public transport, but were supposedly able to do so in a safe way. Two workers requested to shift their working schedule to ensure the safe use of public transportation. For the rest of the commuting workers, it was stated that they found a solution to come safely to work, either by using officially available public transport or by their own vehicles. 6 workers reported that they have no means of safe transportation available and they were allowed to stay at home on paid leave until now 31 March guaranteed, and clarification for the month of April will be provided. Each case will be reviewed individually before the Easter holidays starting April 9th.
Transport costs for March 2020 will be fully covered by the factory regardless of the days actually worked.
The factory will start the Easter Holiday on 10 April and reopen on 21 April.
Fair Wear was able to reach out to two workers from the factory to check in on workers safety and undertaken measures by the factory. In addition, Fair Wear conducted an interview with factory management and asked for evidence on the reported remediation steps.
Findings from consulted sources were corroborated and confirmed that necessary preventive measures in line with the country-specific requirements were in place and that the brand has specifically raised the issues reported through the complaint.
Fair Wear in the following period will reach out to the complainant to inform about actions taken by the brand and will try to verify that all measures reported are put in place.
Fair Wear reached out to the complainant, who confirmed that factory management discussed the safety measures with the workers. This was also previously verified by other workers and in documents provided by factory management.
Worker representatives were consulted and all the worker safety issues were individually addressed. The transportation issue was taken very seriously by the management, who afterwards made sure that all workers use safe transportation and workers feel safe at the workplace. The working hours schedule has been reorganised in two shifts: the first shift takes place from 6:50 to 15:00 and is reserved for workers who have to commute. The second shift is from 15:30 to 23:00 and is for workers who live in the city. The workers who do not have access to safe transportation are allowed to stay at home and their salaries will be paid in full.
The complainant stated that workers appreciated the fact that salaries have been paid in full and on time, including the transport subscriptions and reimbursements. Workers are also satisfied to have a sufficient amount of work. A complainant stated that workers feel safe, there are sufficient disinfectants and sanitation stations in the factory.
This complaint has been resolved.