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According to the complainant all workers and staff members are asked to work for consecutive 2 to 3 days including Sundays without any break. Because of this, many workers have fallen sick. Workers are not allowed to take leave. Recently Junior merchandiser had an accident due to sleep deprivation. It was told that workers have 48 hours of work in a week during the induction. But it is not so.
(S)He adds that CCTV footage can be checked and it would reveal that there are many girls work in extremely tired condition (because of lack of sleep). Sometimes workers work continuously two full days and two full nights. Due to the work pressure HR Manager also quit his job. Whenever there is urgent shipment factory management follows this excessive work hours practice. The complainant has been working for three months and have been asked to work consecutive days round the clock on at least eight occasions (excessive working hours).
Complainant claims that there is no additional salary (overtime payment) for the staff either. For the workers the salary calculated is for one and half shift (12 hours) but they work for about 20 to 24 hours. When food is arranged by the factory for those who work at night this cost is deducted from their salary.
FWF shared the complaint with the brand on 19.02.2019 and the brand in turn shared it with the factory for their response. Below is the summary of the replies given by factory management and brand's social compliance auditor's observations.
Issue no 1: Workers and Staff Members are asked to work for consecutive 2 to 3 days including Sundays without break. Because of this many workers have fallen sick. Workers are not allowed to take leave.
Factory Management : There were no consecutive work. No work was conducted on any Sunday. There is no restriction for workers to avail leave.
Brand's observation : After checking the records, there was no work conducted on Sundays. There were no continuous work carried out day and night. In last three months' period, out of twelve Saturdays, three Saturdays Sewing Department and Checking Department worked additionally in night due to production load, which is also compensated subsequently as per law.
Issue no 2: Junior Merchandiser Mr. Sakthivel met with an accident due to loss of sleep.
Factory Management: Mr. Sakthivel worked in the company only for 45 days, left the company on his own will. When he resigned, he informed that he has problem with his eye sight, going for medical treatment. There is no information that he met with an accident.
Brand's observation : None of the factory staff who worked with Mr. Sakthivel informed that Mr. Sakthivel met with an accident.
Issue no 3: It was told that workers have 48 hours of work in a week during the induction. But it is not so
Factory Management : Regular working time is only 48 hours per week, only in case of emergency, we will have Over Time – which will be well within the legal limits.
Brand's observation : As per record, over time working is within the legal limits.
Issue no 4: CCTV Footage can be checked and it would reveal that there are many girls work in extremely tired condition (because of sleep). Sometime the workers work continuously two full days and two full nights.
Factory Management : It is not true.
Brand's observation : We checked the CCTV footage, we didn’t find such scenarios.
Issue no 5: Due to work pressure HR Manager also quit his job.
Factory Management: HR Manager resigned recently on his own will since he got a better opportunity nearer to his native place.
Brand's observation: Mr. Vetrivel was contacted and he informed that he didn’t find any problem with the factory management but switched the job since he got better option.
Issue 6 : Not additional salary (OT Salary) for staff. For the workers the salary calculated is for one and half shift (12 hours) but they work for about 20 to 24 hours.
Factory Management: There is no overtime salary for staff. Workers will work for 8 hours per day and if necessary, they work over time with in legal limits.
Brand's observation : For Staff members there is no overtime salary paid. For workers, over time working hours are paid as per legal rates.
Issue no 7: When food is arranged by the factory for those who work at night the cost is deducted from their salary.
Factory Management : During the above mentioned night work occasions the factory management provided food for the workers but there was no deduction made in their salary.
Brand's observation: As per salary register there is no deduction for food and also a direct interaction with the workers, revealed that there was no such deductions were made.
Going by the complaint report and the response of factory/brand no conclusions can be drawn as all issues raised by the complainant is refuted by the factory/brand. However, factory/brand does not support their answer with any supporting document. Given the intensity of the complaint further investigation may be required.
As a part of investigation, response of factory and brand was shared with the complainant to get his views.
It is to be noted that the complainant worked as a merchandiser and not a worker as earlier recorded.
According to the complainant CCTV footage from October 2018 to January 2019 can be checked which would reflect on the longer hours of work and tired workforce.
As the complainant was the immediate reporting officer for the Junior Merchandiser (Mr Sakthivel) he knew more about the accident than any other.
Complainant insisted that during the audit the factory management showed cooked data for working hours and over time hours. According to him no one from factory called the ex-HR recently because he is not interested in talking to the factory management.
Complainant maintains all the issues that he raised in his complaint.
It is difficult for Fair Wear to make a conclusion of the investigation of the complaint at this point. This complaint needs further investigation on the field. Fair Wear will inform the brand about it and check with the complaint investigator.
An announced visit was made to the factory on 5th Feb as a part of investigation. Offsite interviews were conducted on 6th Feb as well. Workers interview and document inspection revealed that there is no excessive overtime and forced labour. In time & Out time record showed that there is proper system on the monitoring of working hours. Workers reported that they never did overtime at night and confirmed that overtime is never forced. Time cards are mentioned for all workers. Sunday is the weekly off and both document verification and workers interview revealed that there is no work on Sundays. CCTV footage did not show any night work.
Wage slip is provided to the workers which contains all the details in the local language and English. Format of the payslip is in compliance with law. There is no improper deduction in the wages as well.
Since both document verification and workers interview revealed that there is proper distribution of wages, no improper deductions, no excessive and forced overtime it is concluded that the complaint is inadmissible and the case is considered as closed.