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Workers called the FWF helpline to complain about the fact that they were asked by management to resign from work due to lack of work in the factory. Some workers said they are subject to retrenchment, some are said that their contract was terminated. The workers were not able to mention the legal provision of job elimination, but somehow workers are in job uncertainty.
According to the complainants, there are 500 workers altogether working in the sewing sections of 2 floors. Recently, workers were asked to resign because there was not enough work in the factory at that moment. Management told the workers that they were not allowed to work from next month. Workers also claimed that management forced workers to resign and threaten them so that they would not create any movement against the management's decision. Management also indicated that workers would not be given their due payments or any benefit if the workers do not resign willingly or if they started a movement or protest against the factory.
FWF's complaints handler in Bangladesh received a complaint from a group of workers who claimed that they were asked by management to resign from work due to lack of work in the factory. The complainants further claimed that management forced workers to resign and threaten them so that they would not create any movement against the management's decision. Management also indicated that workers would not be given their due payments or any benefit if the workers do not resign willingly or if they started a movement or protest against the factory. FWF declared this complaint admissible and informed Takko, the FWF member brand sourcing at this factory. FWF and Takko arranged a first meeting with the factory management on 29 October 2017. In this meeting the factory management admitted their wrongdoing and promised to rectify. However, in December FWF interviewed workers who indicated that 100 workers have resigned thus far. Based on the workers comments, it is clear that workers have been forced to resign by the factory management and not compensated as per the law.
A meeting was held in January where factory management was confronted. Management indirectly admit that there was some sort of statement from management which forced/pressured workers to submit their resignation and that was wrong. They will not do it again. Takko will follow up this directly, FWF also cross verified with workers. It was also agreed that all workers who already resigned and left the factory, should receive a final settlement as per law. Takko will follow up on this during their next audit. FWF will cross check with workers.
Takko visited the factory on 5 February 2018 and reviewed the personal files of workers that have resigned in the past. After verification, it was found that the factory has made the settlement as per law. On 20 March 2018 a final meeting was convened between Takko, FWF, the factory management and Takko's agent. Aim of the meeting was to check the final settlements, which were found paid in accordance with relevant legislation.
FWF member brand Takko immediately asked for a response from the factory management. The factory management stated that due to retrofitting work the factory is not running at its optimum capacity. The management went on to indicate that if workers wish to obtain better opportunities, they are free to move wherever they feel more comfortable. Finally, management indicated that they have not put any pressure on the workers.
On 10 October FWF learned that around 100 workers have resigned thus far. Workers confirmed that construction work in the factory will start soon.
Workers furthermore indicated that the workers who had resigned are not receiving any service benefit. According to the workers, management declared that no one is going to receive any service benefit except the payment of unattained earn leave. From conversation with some of the workers, FWF learned that some of them received only earn leave payment with their due salary, no other legal benefits.
In addition, different workers (including production workers, security guards and admin staff) indicated that they are being still being pressurised to resign from work. Moreover management told one of the workers that the factory is going to be closed within 2/3 months.
A meeting was held at the factory on 29 October. Attending this meeting were FWF staff, Takko's compliance officer, the CEO of Takko's agent and factory management, including the General manager, Deputy general manager and the Admin & Compliance manager. The results of the meeting are as follows:
Firstly, management confessed that they did not provide the resignations benefits to the workers that they are entitled to as per labour law. The factory provided only the due salary and earn leave but no resignation benefit to the workers. Management committed to provide all the dues, including benefits, to which the workers are entitled to by law.
Secondly, the discussion focused on the forceful resignation of 12 Quality Checkers. Management gave a commitment that the factory will not force any worker to resign from now on. Management also expressed their interest in meeting again to follow up the status of the resolving of this complaint during the last week of November this year.
Furthermore, FWF crosschecked some personal worker files of 5 workers who resigned. The document review revealed that 1 of the workers, who resigned 2 months before, but has been working at the factory for the last 7 years, did not get any service benefit except the due salary and earn leave. Similarly, for the other 4 workers there was no documentation of the provision of service benefits. Fact of the matter is that the factory has no practice of providing service benefit to any workers. FWF calculated the workers' due salary, earn leave and resign benefit and asked management to pay them as per law. Management agreed to consider these workers by paying them their due and entitled payments and will inform FWF about this.
FWF confirmed that it will monitor carefully and will continue to follow up with workers about any forced resignations, and will meet again with the factory management at the last week of November to check whether all complainants have received their legal benefits or not.
A worker from the factory called the help line number to indicate that the factory is going to close its activities from January and management is asking all workers to resign, though some management staff will stay and resign later on. FWF also called the factory management who denied this, saying no decision has been taken to close the factory yet.
On 14 December 2017, Takko together with FWF interviewed the dismissed workers outside the factory. The outcome is the following:
1) All 5 interviewed workers have confirmed that they have been informed by the management to submit the back dated resignation letter and accordingly they have submitted the resignation letter.
2) Additionally, 2 workers have informed that they have not received the annual leave encashment from the factory.
3) Two of the workers also informed that in December 2017, around 100 workers have already submitted the resignation letter from different sections.
4) The workers have been informed to resign as factory management has plan to shut down the factory soon to carry on the remediation work.
Based on the workers comments, it is clear that workers have been forced to resign by the factory management and not compensated as per the law.
In order to settle the complaint, FWF has proposed to visit again the factory in January 2018 for a concluding meeting with the factory management. The factory visit schedule will be confirmed soon by FWF.
FWF and Takko representatives visited the factory on 4 January. There was lot of discussion, factory management was trying to save their position by denying the issues raised. Workers still felt insecure about losing their jobs. During the discussion with management, at one point one of the complainants was called forwards, who said, in front of the general manager, that he had been bound to resign because the GM forced him to do so.
After many discussion the following decision was made:
1) Management indirectly admit that there was some sort of declaration from management to the workers regarding the submitting of resignation letters to the workers and that was wrong. They will not do it again. Takko will follow up this directly, FWF also cross verify with workers.
2) The workers who already resigned and have left the factory, will receive ttheir final settlement as per law, as should have already happened. Takko will follow up on this during their next audit. FWF will cross check with workers.
3) The workers who submitted their resignation in current month, Management should allow them to withdrawn their resignation if they want to continue with the factory. When FWF talked with some resigned workers it was found that some workers want to continue and some are not as their friends and relatives already left the factory. Takko will follow up this and FWF will cross verify with workers.
Takko visited the factory on Monday, 5 February 2018 and reviewed the personal files of 10 workers out of 28 workers (selected randomly) that have resigned in December 2018. After verification, it was found that the factory has made the settlement as per law.
It was also observed that in January 2018, 20 more workers have resigned and factory has confirmed to pay the benefits to workers within February 2018. As per factory policy (which is in accordance with the law), the settlement amount will be paid within 30 days after the resignation. Similarly, in February 2018 (till 5 February 3 workers have resigned) the factory will make the settlement in March 2018 (within 30 days). At present, factory is left with only 591 workers.
Moreover, the factory has circulated its new policy on Service Benefit & Annual leave Encashment based on 2015 amendment (labour rules) for reference of workers & the Participation Committee. Earlier, factory management had the practice to pay the annual earned leaves based on its own system that was not as per law.
On 20 March 2018 another meeting was convened between Takko, FWF, the factory management and Takko's agent. The aim of the meeting was to check the final settlements, which were found paid in accordance with relevant legislation.