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Alleged noncompliance with respect to the Freedom of Association provision of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct, specifically, problems related to obtaining union recognition and harassment and abuse of union leaders.
On July 5, 2006, the FLA received a Third Party Complaint filed by the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) regarding Yung Wah Industrial (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. Plant #2 (“Yung Wah 2”), a factory located in Kandal province, Cambodia. The complaint alleged noncompliance with respect to the Freedom of Association provision of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct.
On July 10, the FLA initiated a Third Party Complaint at Step 2, and notified the complainant and Eddie Bauer (the FLA affiliated company mentioned in the complaint) about its action. (Note: Pursuant to Step 2, FLA companies have up to 45-days to conduct an assessment and report back to the Executive Director in writing as to whether noncompliance with the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct occurred and, if so, whether and how it had been remedied.)
Assessment by Company:
Eddie Bauer notified the FLA that an internal audit (conducted in March 2006) had found non-compliance with Freedom of Association provisions at Yung Wah 2 and was assessing the situation and developing a remedial strategy. Part of Eddie Bauer’s assessment process included communicating with representatives of the Better Factories Cambodia program,Yung Wah Headquarters representatives in Singapore, Yung Wah 2 factory managers, other companies sourcing at Yung Wah 2, C.CAWDU representatives at the factory, and Cambodia Ministry of Labor representatives. Eddie Bauer representatives also interviewed Yung Wah 2 workers.
During the 45-day period, Eddie Bauer worked with Better Factories Cambodia and the FLA and in collaboration with other buyers at Yung Wah 2 to respond to serious allegations of harassment and abuse against union leaders, in particular a violent incident involving a C.CAWDU union leader and criminal proceedings against four union leaders for their alleged role in an illegal strike that took place on March 30, 2006.
The following is a list of priorities, and the resulting outcomes, that Eddie Bauer identified to address the Freedom of Association non-compliance at Yung Wah 2:
Drop all criminal charges against worker leaders. Yung Wah 2 withdrew criminal charges against all four union leaders. On August 9, 2006, the Court issued a letter confirming the withdrawal of the charges and, on August 17, issued individual letters to the four workers confirming their release from all charges.
Resolve the union registration issue. C.CAWDU received union recognition at Yung Wah 2.
Note: The Better Factories Cambodia program of the International Labor Organization (ILO) monitors and reports on working conditions of Cambodian garment factories according to national and international labor standards. Better Factories Cambodia first monitored Yung Wah 2 in June 2005 and subsequently named and reported on its progress in March 2006.
As a result of the involvement by Eddie Bauer in the FLA Third Party Complaint process, all criminal charges against union leaders were dropped and the union achieved recognition at the factory, thereby accomplishing the main objective of the complaint.
The FLA thus decided to formally close the Third Party Complaint at Step 2 and informed C.CAWDU officials of its decision in a meeting on October 5, 2006.
OECD Watch case story page: http://www.fairlabor.org/report/yung-wah-industrial-co-ltd-plant-2-cambodia