ICTI CARE Process Case Studies
Real-life cases highlighting solutions implemented through the ICTI CARE Process:
Case Study #1 –Worker ID Cards
The ICFAL auditing staff conducted a Quality Control Audit at a Guangdong factory holding an ICTI CARE Process (ICP) Seal of Compliance and discovered that the ID cards of 72 workers were being illegally withheld in direct violation of Chinese labor law. Workers are unable to travel without their national ID cards and can become locked-in to their jobs.
Based on the ICP approach of constructive engagement, an ICFAL auditing staff member met with the factory management to discuss the worker ID card issue. The ICP auditor asked the factory manager to return the ID cards to the workers and explained the need to take this corrective action in order to remain in compliance with Chinese labor law and avoid being put on probation or removed from the ICTI CARE Process, which would have jeopardized the factory’s ability to do business with the many brands and retailers that participate in the ICP.
The factory management recognized the benefits of complying with ICP requirements and immediately agreed to return the ID cards to the workers. All 72 workers received their ID cards within one day along with an apology from the factory. An ICFAL staff auditor was on-site to verify the process. The factory continues to remain in compliance with all ICP requirements.
Case Study #2 – Unpaid Wages
Audit results of some ICTI CARE Process factories on probation (2 in Dongguan, 1 in Huizhou) found they were underpaying their workers.
Because the factories were transparent about their working hours and wage practices, the ICTI CARE Process team agreed to a course of corrective action. The factories agreed to a payment schedule that would ensure that workers received what they were owed in back pay. They also agreed to allow an ICFAL staff member to supervise the factories on the day of back payment, to conduct interviews with workers to ensure the unpaid wages were settled, and to correct any discrepancies over what workers were legally entitled to (i.e., overtime pay of not less than 150%, 200% and 300% of the established rates on normal working days, rest days and official public holidays, respectively).
As a result of the factory’s transparency regarding its records, and through close cooperation between the factory management and the ICFAL team, payment of back wages was successfully achieved through the ICTI CARE Process.
Case Study #3 – Substandard Living Conditions
The audit of a Shenzhen factory applying for a Seal of Compliance identified a factory practice of not paying overtime unless workers met set quotas, as well as health and safety issues in the canteen and dormitory.
The ICTI CARE Process staff auditor met with factory management and explained the need to commit to paying correct overtime wages in accordance with Chinese law and ICP requirements, and to upgrade conditions in the canteen and dormitory by a certain date.
ICTI CARE Process staff succeeded in convincing the factory to meet program requirements for worker payment and to bring about improved living conditions. The factory management also held a meeting with the workers to inform them that they had discontinued the practice of linking overtime pay to production quotas and would in future pay at established rates. Health and safety conditions in the canteen and dormitory were also significantly improved; both facilities were painted and new fixtures and furniture installed in the canteen.
Case Study #4 – Withholding Wages
A worker reported via ICP’s toll-free hotline that one of the ICP-approved factories had used recruitment agents to hire over 700 student summer workers from different schools. The factory paid RMB50 per head to the agencies for their services. Unbeknownst to the factory, the agencies were deducting monies from the students’ wages without the students’ permission/knowledge. The practices of direct payment by agencies to the students and making unauthorized salary deductions are both in violation of the ICTI Code of Business Practices.
An ICP staff member immediately placed a call to the factory management to gain a clear understanding of the factory’s current practice of employing student workers. Recommendations for appropriate salary handling procedures were given to the factory, in addition to which, they were asked to conduct a thorough investigation and to hold a meeting with all the student workers to clarify their rights and responsibilities.
Following the intervention of the ICP staff, the factory paid extra compensation to the agencies to stop them from deducting all sorts of payments from the students’ wages. It also began paying the summer workers’ salaries directly, and on paydays, police were called in to monitor the activities and to keep order. The factory also held meetings with the students and posted a notice emphasizing their rights. An ICFAL staff member personally observed the steps the factory took on-site to ensure the summer workers’ safety and full payment, including:
- Calling 110 (the police emergency number) and the main recruitment agency to put a stop to the illegal fees
- Providing transport to the bus station for all summer workers
- Publicizing the phone number of factory management that summer workers could contact if they were threatened or needed help.
The factory is also taking steps to prevent the recurrence of similar problems. Going forward, it will use the student’s contact information to recruit workers directly instead of using agencies. When agencies are needed, the factory undertook to include a clause in their agreements stating the workers’ rights and to record the agreement with the relevant local judicial authority.
Cast Study #5 – Sexual Harassment
A worker called the ICTI CARE Process toll-free hotline to complain that an assistant foreman in their factory’s injection molding department was physically harassing female workers. This behavior continued even after 60-some female workers held a three-day protest strike in 2008.
One of the ICFAL staff investigated the case and conducted interviews with female workers who had actually been harassed. At a meeting with management staff, the ICFAL team emphasized that any form of sexual harassment of workers would not be tolerated, and the management was told to pay more attention to their subordinates’ behavior and to take steps to prevent any further incidents.
The factory reported back inside of one week that its human resources department had interviewed all the workers in the injection molding department individually, and 17 of them claimed that they had personally been harassed by the assistant foreman or they had seen him harass others. Following his meeting with factory management, the assistant foreman responsible asked to be let go.