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FWF received a complaint call from Union representatives (previously) working at the factory. According to their statement there are two groups of workers working in the factory - contractual and permanent workers. In January 2018, both permanent and contract workers formed their own respective Unions and submitted their proposals with the factory management, along with list of their demands for negotiation. Management, during that time, did not acknowledge the Unions and deferred the meeting to address points raised under the proposals. However, later management recognized the Unions but still deferred any hearing of Union/labor demands or negotiations.
The complainants claimed that on 13th April, in one incident, a worker aged 21-22 years was physically beaten up by a supervisor aged 40 years during work in the night shift. The worker had made a mistake in his/her work. During this time, the Union president of the contract worker union intervened and demanded action against the supervisor. The Union agreed that a mistake is human and therefore a disciplinary action against the worker was acceptable, but they objected against the physical abuse by the supervisor. The management did not take up the Union demands for any action against supervisor under consideration.
This disrupted the work for few days, as one line/machines were kept nonoperational out of protest.
The complainants stated that on 25th April, the Union president was debarred from entering the factory premise stating his/her unruly behaviour towards management as a reason. One month pay or other benefits have not been paid to him/her. The Union members collected a lump-sum amount from their wages so that (s)he could run his household chores for the past month.
The Union president raised his/her complaint with the District Labor Commissioner, who visited the premises and suggested the hearing date as 22nd May ( the date complaint was filed with FWF).
The Union president and general secretary have approached FWF for assistance in the matter and to ensure a dialogue and mediation between management and Union representatives.
FWF received a call later that evening from another worker working in the same factory.
She/He stated that:
a)The DLC (District Labour Commissioner) invited the management and workers (who raised the complaint) in his office on 22nd May. After deliberations, the DLC concluded that the management was at fault but was unable to persuade the management to reinstate the Union president.
b) Management stated that they shall not hire the worker back at any cost.
c) The worker who was beaten up by the supervisor has been forcibly asked to resign and leave the factory premises.
d) The worker stated that workers have in the meantime threatened the management to go on strike, if the workers are not reinstated. But the management has not succumbed and counter-stated that the wages of those workers would be deducted in case of a strike.
The workers approach FWF with more guidelines on next steps.
FWF's member brand Triaz had recently ended their business relationship with this factory after they refused FWF access for investigation in a prior complaint case.
According to FWF's complaint policy, brands are asked to take on any admissible complaint received within 180 days of ending a sourcing relationship. Triaz contacted the factory, which denied being aware of any of the issues raised in the complaint.
FWF investigated whether other member brands of initiatives working on social standard are sourcing from the supplier. Neither the complainants nor Triaz were aware of names of other brands. FWF contacted the Fair Labour Association and checked the public list of suppliers of the Dutch Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector, but could not find a match either.
FWF will send a local team member to meet with the complainants to assess whether there are other possibilities to support them in addressing their grievances.
The local team member from Fair Wear met the complainants and have provided guidance in approaching a lawyer who can help the complainants on legal issues . Since the brand is no more associated with Fair Wear , Fair Wear considers this case as closed as the workers have been guided on how they should/could proceed.