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Our new verification coordinator, Margreet Vrieling, is joining her colleague Henrik Lindholm in Turkey during a factory audit. We’ve asked her to send us her impressions of her very first FWF audit.
The weather in Istanbul is a disappointment: I had hoped it would be a bit warmer than in Amsterdam, but it’s cold, misty and rainy. In a packed car (with Henrik, myself and the three members of the audit team) and the heating on this means that the windows are soon fogged over. So I didn’t see much of the surroundings.
A warm welcome in the factory. During this audit, a representative of one of our affiliates and their agent is present. For them it is a good opportunity to compare their own findings and experiences with this factory with our audit outcomes.
After the introduction meeting, the audit team members start their work. One is doing worker interviews, following up on the offsite interviews she did in the weeks before the audit. The second team member inspects the documents while I join the health & safety inspector on a tour of the factory. Although I have been in other garment factories before, the huge difference between the nice meeting rooms and the production areas touches me.
Luckily the human resource manager is not defensive at all. He sees the shortcomings in, for example, emergency exits and preventative measures for fire safety. Especially in the department where the printing of the fabrics is done, people have heavy jobs, in an environment with all kinds of chemicals and paint. Good health and safety measures are no luxury here! It is a pity that there is no worker representation at all functioning in the factory. They could contribute in prioritising the issues for improvement for their working conditions.
After this first day the audit team already has a good impression. The second day will be used to interview more workers and study some documents which were not available yet. Also on the second day, the very important exit meeting, during which the most important findings are discussed with factory management and a corrective action plan is discussed.