Tag Archives: IUF

Human Rights and Trade Union Activist Yacine Zaïd Abducted in Algeria: Act Now!

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Human Rights Activist, IUF representative in Algeria abducted

October 1, 2012

Act now. Please help secure Yacine’s release.

On 1 October, Algerian IUF [International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations] representative and human rights activist Yacine Zaïd was picked up off the street in Hassi Messaoud in the Ouargla province by unidentified men in a white Nissan 4×4 vehicle and has not been seen since. His location at this time is unknown. Zaïd had earlier been beaten upon being  taken into custody by Algerian police prior to his release and subsequent abduction.

The IUF believes that Yacine Zaïd’s well-being and perhaps even his life is at risk because of his outspoken work in defence of human rights in Algeria and his long-standing defence of workers’ rights, now as an IUF representative in that country.

The IUF calls on the Algerian authorities to act immediately to secure the release of Yacine Zaïd, guarantee his security and restore his full rights. We also call on authorities to investigate the matter fully and bring those responsible to justice.

You can help. Please send a message to the Algerian Government immediately to secure the safe release of Yacine Zaïd.

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UPDATE – Human Rights Activist, IUF representative in Algeria beaten and jailed

October 2, 2012

On 1 October, Algerian IUF representative and human rights activist Yacine Zaïd was stopped by police in Ouargla province, interrogated and beaten over a period of two hours. He was then abducted in a car with no licence plates.

Witnesses to the beating have expressed concern over the seriousness of his injuries and we have now learned that he remains in police custody and is to appear shortly before the Prosecutor of Ouargla province.

ACT NOW. Please send a message to the Algerian President to secure the safe release of Yacine Zaïd.

Please note that some messages may bounce back – do not be discouraged! The Algerian authorities have begun refusing e-mails – a sign that the messages are having an effect – but some messages will get through, making the point that the call for the release of Yacine Zaid has international support.

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RadioLabour: Nestlé’s mistreatment of workers in Pakistan and Indonesia

A RadioLabour special report:
Nestlé’s dismal treatment of workers in developing countries
Part 1: Pakistan

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and nutrition company. It operates in 86 countries and employs some 280,000 workers. It is forced by strong unions to correctly treat workers in Europe where it is headquartered. But it’s a different story in developing countries where unions are weaker, unemployment is higher, poverty is rampant  and governments more corrupt. As one of its strategies Nestlé deliberately keeps many of its workers in lowly paid day-to-day jobs in order to keep wages down and unions out. I talked to Peter Rossman about Nestlé’s operations in two developing countries: Pakistan and Indonesia. Mr Rossman is the communications director for the International Union of Foodworkers. In this first of a two part series I asked Mr Rossman about the situation for Nestlé workers in Pakistan.

Listen to the interview here.

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Nespressure returns with mass dismissal of union members in Indonesia/provocation and attacks on union leader in Pakistan

24-10-2011

Management pressure on workers and their unions continues at Nestlé, the world’s largest food company

Click here to send a message to Nestlé!

Management at the Nescafé factory in Panjang has fired 53 of the 87 members of our affiliate SBNIP (technically they were handed “resignation letters”!) after the union took industrial action in support of their collective bargaining demands. The strike was the predictable result of five years of deep frustration.

On March 31 this year, SBNIP and local Nestlé management signed an agreement (initialed by the IUF and Nestlé corporate management on March 28) which finally opened the way for the union to bargain the Panjang workers’ collective agreement, including the wage bargaining which Nestlé management had been steadfastly rejecting for years.

Negotiations were difficult, and eventually deadlocked when the union called into question the enormously unequal spread in proposed wages within the many individual job categories, a spread which in the union’s view failed to comply with government regulations. With negotiations at an impasse, the union filed notification to strike in accordance with the legal requirements, and the SBNIP members – representing the majority of unionized workers at the factory – ceased to work on September 21, and peacefully occupied the plant to ensure that no product would be leaving the factory.

The company responded by denouncing the strike as illegal and ordering people back to work. During the strike workers received phone calls and two letters – letters from the company that Nestlé now claims were legal summons.

As tensions escalated, workers left the factory premises on September 26, briefly occupied the football field (inside the factory grounds), and then left the factory as a sign of good faith for the negotiations scheduled for the following day.

The next day, however, with the union announcing a return to work pending the outcome of the negotiation, Nestlé management failed to turn up for the scheduled meeting.

Following this provocative rebuff, the strike resumed on September 28, and the union filed for an eventual extension of industrial action should it be necessary.

The strike attracted sufficient attention in the media that a delegation from the provincial parliament came to Panjang on October 3 and asked to meet with the union members inside the factory. Nestlé management rejected this request.

On the morning of October 5, the local Labour Department called SBNIP and Nestlé management to mediation but management sent only junior company representatives who were not authorized to take any decisions in the mediation process. The union had looked to the mediation as an opportunity to make the case that it could not sign an agreement whose provisions were incompatible with government recommendations, and therefore potentially illegal. In this mediation the union agreed to end the strike at 1PM the same day and a memorandum prepared and witnessed by the Labour Department was signed by the union president, Eko Sumaryono and the Nestlé management representative.  Significantly the reference in this document to the strike of September 21-October 5 does not make any reference to the strike being “illegal”.

The strike ended at 1PM in accordance with the agreement and in two telephone calls between the union and Nestlé management at 6:27PM and 7:52PM, it was agreed to meet the next morning, October 6, to discuss finally signing the collective agreement. But from 10PM on October 5 Nestlé management launched the mass dismissal of union members.

When the strike ended as agreed on October 5, union members on the second shift reported for duty at 2PM and, although management did no re-start the machines, they completed their shift. But when union members arrived for the third shift at 10PM they were faced by a cordon of security guards at the factory gates, with riot police on standby inside the factory grounds. Security guards called out the names of union members, handed them “resignation” letters one by one and then sent them away. The same letters were also sent to their homes. Dozens of termination letters were issued on October 6.

This ruthless reaction by Nestlé came after the conflict was resolved under the auspices of the Labour Department and the strike was already over in accordance with the official memorandum that the company and union signed. More incredibly, even after the union agreed to sign the collective agreement, Nestlé management still continued its mass termination. This extreme bad faith on the part of the company reveals the company’s determination to crush the union regardless of the conflict being resolved. This was not about the strike – it was the culmination of five years of attempts by Nestlé Panjang management to destroy a union that dared exercise its collective bargaining rights (see What Nestlé will not want you to know: the truth about the Panjang strike).

To demonstrate their refusal to accept this mass forced “resignation” and to express their determination to be reinstated, the unfairly dismissed union members collected the severance pay that was automatically transferred to their bank accounts on  October 5 and attempted to return it to the company. On October 7, when union and management representatives were called to a meeting by the local parliamentary commission, union representatives handed over the severance money. Nestlé management – left speechless by this – refused to take it and left.

Union delegates at the IUF-A/P Regional Conference (Bali, Indonesia October 18-20, 2011) carried an emergency resolution on trade union rights violations at Nestle Panjang (Indonesia) and Nestle Kabirwala (Pakistan).  Picture shows delegates protesting against Nespressure inflicting  mass dismissals at Panjang and false criminal charges against union leader in Pakistan.

The Panjang strike was an understandable response to years of struggle for the right to form an independent union and engage in meaningful collective bargaining with one of the most powerful corporations in the world. The company’s local management has deliberately stoked accumulated frustration, engineering a series of events which it is attempting to exploit in order to undermine years of struggle in a country where workers are still denied their fundamental rights.

Nespressure stalks Pakistan

No sooner had Nestlé expanded its plant in Kabirwala, Pakistan in 2007 to become the company’s largest milk reception factory in the world, than management set about trying to undermine the union and attacking its energetic and effective president, Mohammad Hussein Bhatti, who was suspended in June 2007 for resisting management interference in union elections (see Pakistan: Management interferes in union elections, dismisses elected union president and violates court orders). Nestlé was forced to back down and Bhatti was reinstated.

But pressure on the union continued and has again come to a head, stimulated by the union’s decision to open its membership to the numerous contract workers at the plant and to assist 250 contract workers to become permanent employees – in accordance with the law – by filing legal cases at the Labour Court. Bhatti and the IUF-affiliated National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers gave important support to the Casual-T struggle at the Unilever Lipton tea factory in nearby Khanewal – and it would appear that Nestlé’s local management has determined to resist similar demands for an end to abuses of precarious employment arrangements.

While the court has issued ‘stay orders’ enjoining management from changing the contract workers’ status until the cases are decided, management has terminated many workers’ contracts and organized a calculated provocation by inviting new contract workers for a factory ‘visit’ – creating the impression that they will replace those fighting for permanent positions after years of precarious employment.

Rather than meeting the union’s demand to negotiate the employment status of precarious workers at this ‘world class’ facility, management has tried to mobilize local opinion against the union and its president and fomented a series of incidents and provocations involving false criminal charges (subsequently thrown out by the court) and inciting extremist religious organizations to attack the union. On October 10, union president Bhatti was stopped by security at the factory entrance and informed that he was suspended for four days, then repeatedly suspended for four-day periods since.

Stop Nespressure!

Tell Nestlé management in Vevey that local Panjang management must unconditionally reinstate the fired SBNIP members and enter into good faith negotiations which have been delayed too long! Pakistan management must rescind the suspension of union president Bhatti, stop provoking, intimidating and dismissing union members and officers and enter into good faith negotiations with the Kabirwala union.

Click here to send a message to Nestlé!

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Defend Glodeni Sugar Mill Workers! (Moldova)

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Glodeni sugar workers, Moldova – Arrested for trying to get their unpaid wages

Five union leaders from the Glodeni sugar mill workers’ union, Moldova, have been placed under house arrest to prevent them from trying to make sure their members get their wages and benefits.

The five – union chair Vasilii Guleac, vice chair Valentina Semeniuc and activists Anatolie Furtuna, Fiodor Svoevolin and Victor Colibaba – have been charged with criminal offences that could carry prisons sentences of between 3 and 8 years.

The arrests come after more than a year of campaigning by the union to defend jobs and get wage arrears paid after the plant owners, SA Glodeni-Zahar were declared bankrupt. Send a message to the Government of Moldova demanding that the union activits be released from house arrest and all outstanding benefits are paid to workers without delay.

Go here to sign and submit a letter addressed to the Moldovan president, labor minister, internal affairs minister, justice minister, and prosecutor general demanding that Glodeni workers be paid back wages and that the authorities release union activists from house arrest and drop all charges against them.

For more background on this conflict, listen to RadioLabour’s Solidarity Report from November 7 of this year (or download a transcript here).

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Stop Nespressure in Russia!

Stop Nespressure in Russia! Rights and Recognition for Nestlé Waters Workers and their Union!

In November 2009, workers at Nestlé Waters Direct in Domodedovo, near Moscow, joined together to do something about eroding real wages and deteriorating working conditions. They formed a legal union — and management responding by harassment, discriminatory work assignments, cutting drivers’ wages by half and sacking the union vice-chair, who was formally accused of damaging the company by doing his job too well! The workers are determined to defend their union and win their rights — you can support them by using this form to send a message to management of Nestlé, the world’s largest food company.

To learn more about Nestlé’s violations of worker rights, see the IUF’s Nespressure website.

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We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.

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Iran: Drop Charges against Jailed Unionists

Act NOW!

Iran: Drop charges against jailed union leaders

Ali Nejati, Feridoun Nikoufard, Mohammed Heydari Mehr, Ghorban Alipour and Jalil Ahmadi are leaders of the trade union of workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company in Shush, an affiliate of the IUF. 

The 5,000 workers at Haft Tapeh have had to resort to repeated strike action over the past two years over failure to pay wages and in support of basic workplace rights. They have been ceaselessly harassed and victimized, with suspected militants subject to frequent arrests and public whippings.

On 20 December last year, the five leaders were charged with “acting against national security” as a result of their trade union activity. They face potentially lengthy prison sentences.

Click on the linked headline (above) to sign a letter in support of the jailed unionists.

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