Search Report
2017 Sustainability Report
published 2018/08/01

VAUDE strengthens worker participation rights

In Germany, the existence of trade unions and employee representatives is a given. Employees shape these processes and make their opinions known. This is not always the case in our countries of production. VAUDE is committed to raising awareness of this issue within factories for both the employees and the management.

All of our producers are obligated to ensure workers in their production facilities the right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The obligation is as follows:

“The right of all workers to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively shall be recognized. The company shall, in those situations in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining are restricted under law, facilitate parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining for all workers. Workers' representatives shall not be the subject of discrimination and shall have access to all workplaces necessary to carry out their representation functions.”

Monitoring by independent auditors

An obligation in and of itself is not enough, of course. Therefore, all of our producers are regularly and independently audited by organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation. Auditors carefully review whether there are violations of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. This is verified through interviews within and outside the production site and by reviewing documents.

Nearly all of our producers in high risk countries have already received training with the FWF Workplace Education Program. This program focuses on communication between employees and management.

Result of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) audit

The FWF audits show that there are still many findings in this area. Common findings include:

  • Workers are not aware of their rights of participation.
  • Employee representatives are not properly elected, but determined by the management.
  • Mandatory meetings between workers and management are not regularly held.

VAUDE has achieved improvement regarding worker participation rights with these measures:

There is often no awareness of this issue in countries outside of Europe – so it is a continuous learning process for workers and management. Workers and management should know how to negotiate and what effective dialog structures look like. Where there is good communication, problems can be avoided or resolved quickly to contribute to good working conditions.

All of our production sites in China, Vietnam and Myanmar have already participated in the FWF's Workplace Education Training (WEP).

The training is refreshed every 3 years and it is well accepted by producers as well as by their employees. VAUDE assumes the costs for the training.

The FWF WEP-training has the following content:

Training is performed separately for employees and management. One reason for this is that the content is different for each target group. Another reason is that when workers are among themselves, they ask more questions and raise concerns more freely than in presence of senior executives.

At least 10% - 20 % of workers participated in WEP training. The reviews showed that the training was effective, as in 88 % of our production sites at least 50 % of the workers are familiar with the contents of the Code Of Labor Practices.

Our own VAUDE WEP Training Team

Our CSR employee in Vietnam is already a certified WEP trainer and conducted the first VAUDE WEP training program in 2017 in 3 production facilities in Vietnam. Our CSR employee in China will complete his WEP trainer course in 2018 and then conduct the first VAUDE WEP training program in China. This enables VAUDE employees to lead training sessions as they visit the factories and make their own contribution to raising the awareness of labor rights.

When communication lines are open, both sides can get to know each other better

We are always communicating with our producers and discussing current challenges in their countries. We have found that most producers would like to have better communication with their workers but don’t know how to put this into practice. For this reason, our CSR team in Asia has begun to support selected producers in improving dialog with their workers. The focus is on training and regular meetings between elected worker representatives and management.

GRI:   407-1
Operations and suppliers in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at risk
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