Takko Holding GmbH, Complaint 606

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Reasonable hours of work Safe and healthy working conditions Legally binding employment relationship
STATUS
Resolved
DATE
2019-01-01

The complainant indicated that on 1 January 2019 the factory management terminated 300 workers including the complainant.

On 27 December 2018, the workers were told that they have to come in for work again the next day, Friday 28 December, which is a weekly day-off in Bangladesh. As they already worked the preceding two Fridays in December (and thus did not enjoy a rest day for an extended period), workers indicated that they rather perform night duty on the 27th and enjoy their day off on Friday.

Factory management did not agree to this proposal and insisted workers should come in for work on Friday. On Friday 28 December most of the workers did in fact come in and worked for 8 hours, though some workers remained absent on that day. The factory was subsequently closed on 29 - 31 December.

When workers re-joined again on 1 January 2019 the management terminated 300 workers. The reason given was that workers were absent on 28 December, though the complainant indicated that many workers who were present and worked on Friday 28 December were also among the group of terminated workers.

Some workers, who felt forced to sign on the resignation letter, received only their due (December) salary; no severance payment or entitled benefits were paid.

The complainant indicates that the disciplinary terminations are illegal. Factory has no right to force workers to conduct work on the weekly off-day and the fact that some workers decided not to work on Friday is no justification for termination. The complainant wants to be reinstated or at the very least receive their due payments.

Findings and conclusions

On 1 January 2019, FWF received a call to the complaints helpline in Bangladesh. The complainant indicated that on 1 January 2019 the factory management terminated 300 workers including the complainant. On 27 December 2018, the workers were told that they have to come in for work again the next day, Friday 28 December, which is a weekly day-off in Bangladesh. As they already worked the preceding two Fridays in December (and thus did not enjoy a rest day for an extended period), workers indicated that they rather perform night duty on the 27th and enjoy their day off on Friday. Factory management did not agree to this proposal and insisted workers should come in for work on Friday. On Friday 28 December most of the workers did in fact come in and worked for 8 hours, though some workers remained absent on that day. The factory was subsequently closed on 29 - 31 December. When workers re-joined again on 1 January 2019 the management terminated 300 workers. The reason given was that workers were absent on 28 December, though the complainant indicated that many workers who were present and worked on Friday 28 December were also among the group of terminated workers. Some workers, who felt forced to sign on the resignation letter, received only their due (December) salary; no severance payment or entitled benefits were paid. The complainant indicated that the disciplinary terminations are illegal. Factory had no right to force workers to conduct work on the weekly off-day and the fact that some workers decided not to work on Friday is no justification for termination. The complainant wanted to be reinstated or at the very least receive the due payments.

The investigation also revealed that a few days before the incident the factory management made a list of all the senior workers who were serving the factory for more than five years and who would be entitled to service benefits. Factory management seized the opportunity to also fire these senior workers. The complainant, who in fact worked on 28 December, was among this group of senior workers. FWF also learned that on 27 December 2018, the security manager of the factory filed a case against 150/200 unnamed workers at the Police Station, for vandalising in the factory and for appropriating some valuable items.

The member company sourcing at the factory, Takko contacted the factory management. On 11 March, 2019 a joint meeting was held at the factory where factory management, Takko, the Agent and FWF were present. The purpose of the meeting was to come to a conclusion of the grievance that had been raised in the factory on 1 January, 2019. Factory management indicated that they were ready to rectify previous mistakes and that they would take the necessary steps to solve the matter according to the suggestions made.

FWF suggested to share a list of the workers who had legal dues including service benefit, earn leave encashment, payment against salary and overtime and the mode of payment. After finalising the list, the mode of payment was discussed. Factory management indicated that would check their cash flow and inform the payment plan to Takko and FWF through the business firm. FWF then askedthe factory management about the settlement of the remaining workers (143) and whether proper documents were maintained. Out of 263 workers, the factory already reinstated 87 (FWF talked with some of them during 1st joint meting on 12 February), settlements were completed with 143 workers (FWF cross checked with some workers and found similarity of the payment information maintained by the factory management), and 33 settlements would be done through joint mediation plan. Furthermore, FWF requested the factory management to withdraw the criminal case that they filed against 35 workers because the allegations had not been proved as per suspicion.

During several joint meetings, including factory management, Takko and Buying House, the remaining workers received their due payments. Because of unavailability of 5 remaining workers; it was jointly decided that the money for these 5 workers would be deposited to FWF. FWF would contact to the workers and handover the money subject to their availability. If FWF could not reach the workers concerned then the money would be returned to factory management by FWF. In the end FWF managed to contact and pay 1 worker. Other workers were unreachable and the related money was returned to the factory.

As to the case filed against workers, the investigation officer of the Police Station investigated the matter and submitted the final report on 13 July 2019. The officer mentioned in the final report that proof or witnesses were found against the related workers that were (allegedly) responsible for vandalising and the missing valuables. Based on the report, the Honorable Court has dismissed the case, as the complainant did not raise any objection on the final report that had been submitted by the investigation officer on 13 July 2019. The case is considered resolved thereby.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2019-01-08 Investigation

Investigation by FWF confirmed that more than 200 workers were not present on duty on Friday 28 December. After completing the officially-declared holiday (29-31 December), when workers arrived at the factory on the 1st of January, factory management announced on the gate that all the workers who were not present at work on Friday 28 December should not enter the factory. Accordingly, when workers tried to enter the factory, security guards did not allow the workers concerned to enter.

The investigation also revealed that a few days before the incident the factory management made a list of all the senior workers who are serving the factory for more than 5 years and who would be entitled for service benefits. Factory management seized the opportunity to also fire these senior workers. The complainant, who in fact worked on 28 December, was among this group of senior workers.

FWF also learned that on 27 December 2018, the security manager of the factory filed a case against 150/200 unnamed workers at the Police Station, for vandalising in the factory and for appropriating some valuable items. The case has been filed according to Bangladesh law section 427/380/506.

2019-03-11 Remediation

On 11 March, 2019 a joint meeting had been held at the factory where factory management, Takko, the Agent and FWF were present. The purpose of the meeting is to come in a conclusion of the grievance that had been raised in the factory on 1st January, 2019.

As factory management, Takko and agent are aware of FWF report and findings on the occurred issue, FWF asked the factory management for a response. The General Manager responded that they don’t want to lose the brand and with the help of both brand and workers they want to develop and run their factory properly. He added that they are ready to rectify previous mistakes and that they will take the necessary steps to solve the matter according to suggestions made. The management expressed their anxiety that they have to face any bigger trouble if their mistakes are reflected in brand’s audit findings.

FWF appreciated the factory's intention to remediate the issue. FWF suggested to share a list of the workers who have legal dues including service benefit, earn leave encashment, payment against salary and overtime and the mode of payment. Factory management replied that they already have a list of 26 workers. He added that if all the workers out of the list will come and ask for their entitled money at once they will have a shortage of finances. As the amount of service benefit is quite huge, management indicated that it wants to settle the payment gradually.

With the list of 26 workers which factory management provided, FWF added 7 more names which come through offsite investigation. After combining all the names, a list of 33 workers has been made which clearly indicates workers' legal dues. Among these 33 workers, 25 workers got their salary, earned leave encashment and overtime while the remaining 8 workers did not get anything yet.

After finalising the list, the mode of payment was discussed. Factory management indicated that will check their cash flow and inform the payment plan to Takko and FWF through the business firm. FWF then asked to the factory management about the settlement of the remaining workers (143) and whether proper documents are maintained. Out of 263 workers, the factory already reinstated 87 (FWF talked with some of them during 1st joint meting on 12 February), settlement were completed with 143 workers (FWF cross checked with some workers and find similarity of the payment information maintained by the factory management), and 33 workers settlement will be done through joint mediation plan.

Furthermore, FWF requested the factory management to withdraw the criminal case that they filed against 35 workers because the allegations had not been proved as per suspicion. The management replied that they are not taking action about the case issue right and they won’t withdraw the case because they want to make the workers understand that they did something wrong. FWF explained that a criminal case will continue irrespective of whether the filing party is active or inactive. For this reason both factory management and workers have to suffer in future for the case.

Therefore, a strong recommendation was made by the buying house (agent), Takko and FWF to the factory management to withdraw the case. Factory management was also reminded that withdrawal is essential to solve the case. Factory management indicated that it will confirm after discussing with top management about their decisions to withdraw the case.

Therefore shortly the outcome of the joint meeting as following:
- Factory management agreed to pay legal dues of listed 33 workers.
- Factory management will inform soon about the mode of payment after checking their cash flow.
- Need to be fixed a neutral location of payment outside the factory.
- Payment will made in present of representative from FWF, Takko and the Buying House.
- Factory management will inform their decision about withdrawal of the case which they filed against 35 workers.

2019-07-18 Remediation

Four complainants were added to the earlier list of 33 workers. A total of 37 complainants are listed for payment. Among these 37 complainant, 24 received their due payment on 18/07/2019 from the factory management in the presence of FWF, Takko and Buying House. Factory management also expressed that the remaining 13 workers will get the payment anytime as per their availability.

2019-07-26 Remediation

Seven workers from the group of the remaining 13 workers received their due payment on 26 July 2019. One other worker was considered not eligible for receiving payment. Because of unavailability of the remaining 5 workers; it was jointly decided that the money of these 5 workers will be deposited to FWF. FWF will contact to the workers and handover the money whenever they are available. If FWF cannot reach those 5 workers then the money will be returned to factory management by FWF.

2019-09-23 Remediation

FWF was able to reach two workers out of five, and made appointments for them to come to the FWF office and receive their due payments. Finally, only one worker came and collected the money.

2019-09-30 Resolved

FWF repeatedly tried to contact the worker that indicated that she would come to receive her due payment but finally couldn't come, but found her phone switched off. Therefore, in accordance with the earlier decision, the remaining money for four workers that could not be reached was returned to the factory.

As to the case filed against workers, the investigation officer of the Police Station investigated the matter and submitted the final report on 13 July 2019. The officer mentioned in the final report that proof or witnesses were not found against the related workers that were (allegedly) responsible for vandalising and the missing valuables. Based on the report, the Honorable Court has dismissed the case, as the complainant did not raise any objection on the final report that had been submitted by the investigation officer on 13 July 2019.

The case was considered resolved thereby.