Suit Supply B.V., Complaint 259

Reasonable hours of work Safe and healthy working conditions

The complainant claimed that the factory had shortened the lunch hour from 1 hour to 20 to 30 minutes on the ground that the fuel for the boiler has been changed to diesel oil by which the energy cost has increased a lot. Factory management did not want to waste the energy during the lunch hour. The complainant stated that the work is too burdensome if they do not have a nap after lunch. They would like to
have their one hour lunch break back.

Findings and conclusions

On 29 August 2017, FWF's complaints handler in China received a complaint from a factory workers who claimed that the lunch break had been reduced from 1 hour to 30 minutes. FWF declared the complain admissible and informed Suit Supply, the member sourcing at this factory. Suit Supply reached out to the factory management, who stated that they had indeed shortened the lunch break because changes to the boiler had led to increased energy costs. However, factory management had themselves noticed that this change affected workers too much, so they had already changed the break back to one hour. The complainant confirmed that the lunch break was one hour again. The complainant was happy with the outcome.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2017-08-30 Investigation

FWF informed Suit Supply about the case. Suit Supply contacted the supplier, who gave the following response:

The factory had indeed shortened lunch hour to 30 min due to boiler changes.
The reason is an enormous cost increase on the energy side due to change of current boilers to gas. The factory would have had till end of this year to change this and already requested a new gas boiler, but since the CN government changed this again to as soon as possible. Many factories are in a difficult position.

The factories are not allowed to use their current boilers, but since the application for gas takes 3 months that would mean or closing the factory for 3 months, or investigating another type of boiler until the gas boiler application would be approved. The factory covers 3 big buildings including dorms so providing energy and changing to different systems twice means tens of thousands of euro’s extra in an extremely short amount of time; it forced the factory to re-think their energy use since they had so to make so many investments.

One of the solutions was to test if they would cut lunch in half and let the workers leave 30 min earlier would help save a substantial amount of energy.

2017-09-12 Conclusion of the investigation

The Chinese labour does not have specific stipulations on the required rest per day for garment workers.

The brand proposed some different solutions to the supplier, but since factory
management already noticed themselves that it would affect the workers too much, they have already changed lunch back to one full hour.

2017-09-20 Evaluation of the complaint

The complainant confirmed that the lunch break was one hour again. The complainant was happy with the outcome.

2017-09-20 Resolved

The complaint was resolved by the management.