Search Report
2022 Sustainability Report
published 2023/08/01

VAUDE strengthens worker participation rights

In Germany, the existence of trade unions and employee representatives is a given. Employees actively participate in shaping these processes and expressing their opinions. However, 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.”


According to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, the issue of participation rights falls under the industry risk category of unions and collective bargaining. We have identified the following risks for our supply chain:

  • Internal social dialogue between workers and management does not function effectively.
  • Trade union freedom is restricted in some production countries.

What are we doing about it? During the last Vendor Club in Vietnam (2019), we conducted a Social Dialogue Training for all our production partners. Additionally, we are conducting various trainings in the production facilities to improve internal dialogue between workers and management. Furthermore, we are working with different production facilities to introduce employee representation.

All the risks listed here are potential risks that we have identified in our production countries and that have a higher probability of occurring. (See also Risk Overview.)


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 Fair Wear. 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 Fair Wear Workplace Education Program. This program focuses on communication between employees and management.

Result of the Fair Wear audit

Our Fair Wear audits show that there are still many findings in this area. Common findings include:

  • Employees are not aware of their rights of participation.
  • Employee representatives are not properly elected, but determined by the management.
  • Mandatory meetings between employees 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 Germany – so it is a continuous learning process for employees and the management. Employees and the 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.

Social Dialogue Training in the VAUDE Vendor Club

In 2019 the first VAUDE Vendor Club for our Asian producers took place in Vietnam. As part of the Vendor Club, we conducted a "Social Dialogue" training course for our producers. We see dialogue as the key to improving working conditions. Concerns and problems can be identified and solved together only when dialogue is successful.

The workshop included the following content:

  • Introduction to the basics of good communication
  • The influence of cultural characteristics on communication
  • Various case studies and group work to apply what has been learned to the conditions in one's own factory.

The workshop was a complete success and was very well received. Social dialogue will be intensified in future Vendor Clubs and we will begin with implementation.

Fair Wear’s Workplace Education Program

All of our production sites in China, Vietnam and Myanmar have already participated in Fair Wear 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 Fair Wear-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 employees participated in WEP training. The reviews showed that the training was effective, as most of the workers of our production sites are familiar with the content of the Code of Labor Practices.

Our own VAUDE WEP Training Team

Our CSR employee in China completed his WEP trainer course in 2018 and conducts WEP trainings in our production facilities. 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.

CSR Employee

Employee satisfaction survey

In 2019, a survey was conducted on employee satisfaction at our producers in Vietnam. The aim of this project was to find out what our partners need to do in order to increase their employee satisfaction and to remain competitive in the search for skilled workers.

The survey was conducted together with other companies and professors of the University of Cologne. The results of the study were then comprehensively evaluated with the help of these professors and made available to our partners. We are currently discussing further steps with our cooperation partners in order to begin the improvement process.

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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