Mondelez International, the global corporation that is the object of the protest by American workers in this image, is not a household name. But its portfolio includes several billion-dollar brands such as Cadbury and Milka chocolate, Jacobs coffee, LU, Nabisco and Oreo biscuits, Tang powdered beverages and Trident gum. Mondelez International, until recently called Kraft Foods, Inc., has annual revenues of approximately $36 billion and operations in more than 80 countries.
This recent protest at its annual shareholders’ meeting in Chicago, comprised largely of members of Local 1 of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), was led by Ron Oswald, the general secretary of the IUF (International Union of Food Workers). The BCTGM was joining with food workers’ unions around the world in supporting Mondelez workers in Egypt, Tunisia, and Pakistan, whose unions were facing repression from Mondelez corporate management. Mondelez employs some 100,000 workers throughout the world. Almost all of its unionized workers are members of unions affiliated internationally to the IUF.
In Egypt and Tunisia, Mondelez has systematically fired union leaders elected during the Arab Spring trying to democratize their unions and make them representative of workers. In Pakistan Mondelez is attacking the union for trying to bargain for sub-contracted workers, the large majority of the workforce.
Like the BCTGM, unions with members in Mondelez from India to Korea have joined the campaign in support of their sisters and brothers in the Moslem world. The campaign is called Screamdelez and features an image from the well-known Edvard Munch painting of “The Scream.”
On May Day 2013, IUF affiliates in Lagos, Nigeria marched with banners in support of the Screamdelez campaign while in Pakistan, members of the IUF-affiliated national food workers federation marched in Multan and in Rahim Yar Khan in solidarity with the union at Kraft Foods Pakistan (formerly Cadbury, now Mondelez-owned).
For more information on the Screamdelez campaign and to send a protest to Mondelez, go to http://screamdelez.org/
Global capitalism indeed has the potential of making the planet a more unified space. Workers in Pakistan and India, in Egypt, Tunisia, Europe and the USA may have widely different cultural and political beliefs, but they are able to unite around a common struggle for their rights as workers.
Paul Garver, a co-editor of Talking Union, is retired from the IUF staff.
Filed under: Busting the union busters, Fair Trade, Global organizing, Low wage workers, Organizing, Strikes and work action, Uncategorized Tagged: | BCTGM, Egypt, IUF, Kraft Foods, Mondelez, Pakistan, Screamdelez, Tunisia