Bangladesh Complaint Kwintet October 2013
Final report of complaint in Bangladesh at factory that supplies Kwintet – October 2013
On 22 October 2013 FWF received a complaint from local trade union National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), through FWF’s liaison officer. The complaint concerns the labour standards ‘no discrimination in employment’ and ‘a legally binding employment relationship’.
NGWF claimed that a female worker was harassed at the factory. A number of workers organised a protest on this event. The management fired 59 workers. In addition, the factory filed cases against 19 workers on the ground of criminal offence and for leading violent activities. The case was considered admissible on 24 October, 2013.
A female line supervisor scolded a female sewing machine operator on 30 September, which started a conflict that led to the operator being suspended.On 30 October, workers decided to protest, and stopped working, demanding the reinstatement of the operator. They also demanded three male supervisors be removed from their posts because of abusive conduct. Management agreed and fired the four line-level supervisors. As news spread, floor-level management disagreed with the decision, and stopped working. Workers decided to start working without supervision. This led to further unrest.
In the aftermath, the factory terminated 10 workers, with termination benefits and full employment benefits and pressed cases against a number of workers for participating in the conflict.
The investigation by FWF local audit team found that the cause of the unrest was the frequent verbal and psychological abuse of floor level management. The factory does not have a very strong grievance handling mechanism and effective communication in place. Moreover protested workers failed to negotiate with the top-management and with the Export Processing Zone authority. Nevertheless, violence is never justified.
Kwintet local office demonstrated sufficient effort to invite factory management to negotiate with the layoff workers represented by NGWF. It is understood by both parties that the case was settled,though such incidence was highly unacceptable. They also agreed that it had happened due to both weak grievance mechanism and management system in the factory, and the lack of knowledge of workers on their legal rights and responsibilities.