The social audit carried out in collaboration with SHIELD Scientific to one of its sub-contracted glove manufacturers has been concluded. The auditing team and Darran Whatley, Senior Contract Manager at LUPC, found that the conditions in the factory were fully compliant to Malaysian law and mostly compliant with the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) base code.
Darran accompanied Asia Inspection (now QIMA) to undertake the social audit at the factory in Malaysia. The purpose of this project was to acquire hands-on experience on supply chain due diligence, with particular regards to promoting respect for human rights in supply chains.
The auditing team identified six minor non-conformances. The first five of the six non-conformances were rectified within 30 days with photographic evidence. LUPC recently received the supporting evidence from the factory to close off the sixth non-conformance that was identified.
Details of the non-conformances with the ETI base code are below:
- The need to appoint a senior member of management responsible for compliance with the ETI Code.
- The need to communicate the ETI Code to all employees.
- The need to communicate the ETI Code to their own suppliers.
- Ensure an electric box found have adequate safety cover.
- Provide more lightening for a QC station (observation).
- Potentially exceeding the ETI Base Code on weekly working hours.
Rectifying the non-conformances showed all parties equally understood the importance of compliance and will be beneficial for all workers in the factory. The collaboration between LUPC and SHIELD Scientific has resulted in generating changes that benefit workers’ conditions.
The last non-conformance identified was related to potentially exceeding the ETI Base Code on weekly working hours. LUPC confirms that the factory fully complies with Malaysian law.
Clause 6 of the ETI code, relating to working hours, states that the total of working hours in any seven-day period should not exceed 60 hours unless it is under exceptional circumstances where all the following are met:
- This is allowed by national law;
- This is allowed by a collective agreement freely negotiated with a workers’ organisation representing a significant portion of the workforce;
- Appropriate safeguards are taken to protect the workers’ health and safety; and
- The employer can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances apply such as unexpected production peaks, accidents or emergencies.
According to the ETI code, exceeding 60 working hours a week is an exception and should not become the rule. To be an exception it must meet all four criteria:
- The factory complies fully with Malaysian law of a maximum limit of 72 working hours a week, including overtime. This is defined under Malaysian Employment Act 1955, which contains the normal hours of work and The Employment (Limitation of Overtime Work) Regulations 1980, which contains the limit of overtime work.
- The factory does not a have workers’ union or workers’ organisations. The factory’s response includes a copy of 2 employment contracts with migrant workers, as well as demand letter to the origin country Embassy regarding the terms and conditions of the employment.
The documents provided by the factory demonstrated that exceeding 60 hours of work per week is accepted voluntary by employees.
- The factory meets the requirements under this subsection. The factory has conducted Chemical Health Risk Assessment and
- This subsection makes reference to exceptional circumstances, it is not an exhaustive list and the employer needs to demonstrate which circumstances were exceptional to justify employing workers for more than 60 hours a week.
The factory states that they do not have any exceptional circumstances that enables them to exceed the 60 working hours a week and they do not have seasonal or unexpected production peaks, accidents or emergencies. However, the factory states that the working hours are regulated in accordance with Malaysian law.
According to the audit and the factory’s response, overtime is voluntary and workers have one day off in every seven-day period, complying with the majority of the ETI Base Code 6. LUPC is aware that the ETI Base Code was not implemented or communicated to the factory or their employees and is committed to following up with framework suppliers to ensure the ETI Base Code is implemented and adhered to by their supply chains.
It is a positive action from SHIELD Scientific to allow its supply chain to be audited and it is worth noting their cooperation during this process to rectify all minor non-conformances.