The factory based complaint system is inadequate at many production sites. Therefore, it is very important to us that workers have the opportunity to contact a neutral entity – the Fair Wear complaint helpline. Complaints may either be made anonymously or personal identifying information can be included. The complaint offices are supervised by local Fair Wear employees who speak the same language as the workers, are in the same time zone and come from the same culture. This is crucial for building trust.
Once VAUDE learns of a complaint, it is immediately addressed following the Fair Wear guidelines. Fair Wear forwards the issue to us and we are obligated to resolve it together with our producers. In turn, we report our resolutions measures to Fair Wear who then checks whether the complaint was adequately resolved and then publishes the report on its website. Read more here
Every production site is obliged to post Fair Wear’s complaint system contact information for its workers in a public place. This is checked regularly by Fair Wear employees and our own CSR employee on-site.
All of our production sites in China, Vietnam and Myanmar have already participated in the Fair Wear Workplace Education Training program (WEP). More here
One component of the WEP training is the complaint system. The complaint system is explained to workers as well as to the management and contact information is distributed on small cards. The focus is also on internal communication between workers and management and factory-based complaint systems. The goal is to solve problems within the factory and to resort to the Fair Wear complaint system only when additional help is needed.
Due to the transition within Fair Wear, pilot onboarding trainings for suppliers and workers were conducted in 2022, including the participation of one of VAUDE's production facilities, which will be implemented starting from 2023. The idea behind the new onboarding trainings is to create a new form of dialogue with suppliers and lay the foundation for all further workplace improvements. Additionally, these trainings raise awareness about labor rights, social dialogue, and internal and external grievance mechanisms (including the Fair Wear complaints helpline). In the future, the onboarding trainings will replace the WEP (Workplace Education Program) trainings.
VAUDE received eight complaints from the Fair Wear complaint system in 2021. These complaints are published on the Fair Wear website and you can find them here
"We see the fact that the number of complaints increased as a positive sign. It means that our training program is effective, workers feel safe enough to protest and have confidence in the system. This is the only way to make progress and to ensure enduring improvement of working conditions.”
This system is effective in addressing complaints about working conditions and human rights violations at our production facilities. We are working to establish a similar complaints system for environmental issues such as when chemicals are handled improperly or waste is not disposed of properly. In addition, we would like to make these complaint systems available not only to our producers, but also to their suppliers who produce materials for VAUDE products. We are planning this for 2023 with initial pilot projects in Cambodia and Taiwan and would like to expand this roll out in the future. We are currently searching for partners to this end: other brands to operate the systems jointly with us and/or organizations that maintain a system such as this that our suppliers’ employees could use.