Takko Holding GmbH, Complaint 772

CONCERNING LABOUR STANDARDS
Safe and healthy working conditions
STATUS
Resolved
DATE
2019-08-14

According to the complainant, workers received written warnings and supervisors used abusive languages towards workers who could not meet the production targets. The factory had a new Supervisor in Charge, who was verbally abusive on a daily basis towards workers who could not meet the targets. According to the complainant, the hourly target was 50 pieces and workers who only managed to complete 40 pieces would be scolded and received a warning letter. According to the complainant, many female workers felt stressed and cried when leaving the factory after signing the warning letters register twice, because they fear it could lead to termination of their job.

FWF checked whether the complainant raised the issue with the internal committee, but the complainant said that the worker representatives from the internal Workers Coordination Committee were not reliable because they only followed the management instruction and were afraid of the Production Manager, who was a relative of the Supervisor in Charge. Therefore, the complainant feel that the internal mechanism was not helpful which is why they called FWF.

Findings and conclusions

On 14 August 2019 FWF received a call to the complaint helpline in Myanmar. According to the complainant, workers received written warnings and supervisors used abusive languages towards workers who could not meet the production targets. The factory had a new Supervisor in Charge, who was verbally abusive on a daily basis towards workers who could not meet the targets. According to the complainant, the hourly target was 50 pieces and workers who only managed to complete 40 pieces would be scolded and received a warning letter. According to the complainant, many female workers felt stressed and cried when leaving the factory after signing the warning letters register twice, because they fear it could lead to termination of their job.

The FWF member brand sourcing at the factory, Takko, immediately raised the complaint with the factory management. In response, the management indicated that it did not recognise the allegations made as, according to the management, no warning letters were given to workers. The factory management furthermore shared that it was working to eliminate verbal abuse which included monitoring and internal training/education. The factory management also had sent its Industrial Engineering staff to training on Industrial Engineering from MGMA, to learn calculation/set up of production targets. In addition, the factory received in-factory training from the SMART programme.

FWF complaints handler investigated further with the complainant, which indicated that he/she could not provide evidence of the warning letters as workers were not allowed to bring their phones to the workplace. FWF advised the factory management to make a public announcement in writing to all workers that nobody would be given a warning letter for not meeting the target. The brand subsequently received the announcement letters from the factory saying that the factory would not keep a record of workers who did not meet the production target and that the use of abusive language was prohibited. The announcement also stated that workers could anonymously raise complaints through the phone numbers of HR. FWF followed up with the complainant who indicated that the situation had not improved. According to the complainant, some supervisors even tried to intimidate the workers because of the complaints to FWF and became stricter to workers. FWF suggested that Takko should convey strongly that a culture of verbal abuse is unacceptable and that it would be monitoring it very closely and expect things to improve.

Takko indicated that it visited the factory on 24 September and discussed the complaint cases with the factory manager/HR and production manager. They expressed that they were surprised about the allegations, but promised to keep an eye on the tone on the work floor and that there would be no retaliation against complainants. Furthermore, the owner of the factory visited Takko's head office in Germany at the end of September and Takko's Senior Director discussed the complaints directly with him. Takko made it clear that the situation was unacceptable and that they expected improvements. As mentioned above, the factory said that they were addressing the situation by arranging training on product management.

FWF repeatedly tried to follow up with the complainant to verify the status. When FWF finally managed to get hold of the complainant, FWF learned that there had been noticeable improvements after the Kaizen Training in the factory. The complainant indicated that the supervisors had noticeably reduced verbal harassment on the work floor, production pressure has reduced, and no more warning letters were issued because of being behind the target. It appeared that the training by Kaizen, and the follow-up by Takko, did effectively improve the situation. The commitment of the management in addressing the situation was also noteworthy and appreciated. The complainant expressed satisfaction about the improved situation. The complaint is considered resolved, noting that Takko should continue to monitor the situation carefully.

Overview of the complaint investigation

2019-08-21 Investigation

The brand raised the complaint with the factory management. In response, the management indicated that it did not recognise the allegations made as, according to the management, no warning letters were given to workers.

The factory management furthermore shared that it is working to eliminate verbal abusive which includes monitoring, internal training and education. Management indicated that they have sent their Industrial Engineering staff to training on Industrial Engineering from MGMA, to learn calculation/set up of production target, but the production lines could not meet the target. Even though the training for production management does not specifically focus on controlling of emotions, how to control emotions is part of this program, which trains supervisors to be smarter leader. In addition, the factory receives in-factory training from the SMART programme in the factory, as per their schedule.

Furthermore, the Takko audit teams from Myanmar and China investigated the production targets some time ago and found that only few workers could get the production bonus. Workers complained that the target was difficult to reach, but the production bonus was an extra benefit and not mandated by the law. Also, Takko auditors could not find evidence that the factory issued warning letters for not meeting the bonus target. Further, the IE department showed evidence to the Takko auditors on how they have set the target. The auditors were not able to confirm whether the production target was unreasonable or not. The brand asked whether the complainant could show the warning letter as evidence.

2019-08-22 Investigation

FWF complaint handler investigated with the complainant, which indicated that it cannot provide evidence of the warning letters as workers are not allowed to bring their phones to the workplaces anymore since last year.

The complaint handler suggested that the factory management makes a public announcement in written to all the workers that nobody will be given a warning letter for not meeting the target. The announcement should also be shared with FWF afterwards as evidence.

2019-08-28 Remediation

The brand received the annoucement letters from the factory saying that the factory does keep a record of workers who cannot complete production target and the use of bad language is prohibited and hence, the workers can anonymously raise complaints through the phone numbers of HR.

2019-09-20 Investigation

FWF checked with the complainant whether the factory informed the workers about the announcement or she noticed any announcement letter about Warning letter and Harassment posted. According to the complainant, however, supervisors tried to intimidate the workers through scolding because they complainted to FWF and became stricter to workers. The complainant said that they could not even move to the table next to them to get scissor without permission. The verbal abuse even got worse because the supervisors are angry about the complaint and there are still workers who resign because of production pressure every day. Although the complainant did not get warning letter, she heard that some workers in other lines do.

FWF suggested that Takko should should convey strongly that it does not accept a culture of verbal abuse and production pressure at a factory that is producing for Takko and that it would be monitoring it very closely and expect things to improve.

2019-10-10 Remediation

Takko indicated that it visited the factory on 24 September and discussed the complaint cases with the factory manager/HR and production manager. They expressed that they were surprised about the allegations, but promised to keep an eye on the tone at the work floor and that there will be no retaliation against complainants.

Furthermore, the owner of the factory visited Takko's head office in Germany end of September during which time Takko's Senior Director discussed the complaints directly with him. Takko made it clear that the situation is not acceptable and that we expect improvements. As informed earlier, the factory is trying to address the situation by arranging training on product management by Kaizen and SMART. Finally, Takko indicated that it will be monitoring the progress very closely.

2019-12-08 Resolved

FWF repeatedly tried to follow-up with the complainant to verify the status. When FWF finally managed to get hold of the complainant FWF learned that there are noticeable improvements observed after the Kaizen Training in the factory. The complainant indicated that the supervisors have noticeably reduced verbal harassment on the workfloor, production pressure has reduced, and no more warning letters were issued because of being behind the target. It appears that the training by Kaizen, and the follow-up by Takko, did effectively improve the situation. The commitment of the management in addressing the situation is also noteworthy and appreciated. The complainant expressed satisfaction about the improved situation. The complaint is considered resolved herewith, noting that Takko should continue to monitor the situation carefully.