Egyptian Union Organizes with Global Support

by Paul Garver

Mondelez

Update:

Following the reinstatement of all 5 executive members of the Cadbury Alexandria Union under their former conditions, elections were held on August 29 for the executive council of the union.

The leaders were once again elected as the principal officers of the union and supporters of the leadership fill all 9 positions on the executive.

160 members attended the meeting where the elections took place including 48 members from the other Mondelez factory in Alexandria at Burj el Arab. 3 of the elected executive members work at this factory where membership continues to grow.

Background
In July 2012, more than two years ago, the Egyptian division of Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods International) suspended five members of the executive committee of a union in Alexandria that dared to declare itself independent. The same American-owned and managed global food company also disciplined union activists at Mondelez plants in Tunisia and Pakistan for similar reasons.

In response the IUF (Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers Worldwide) organized a global “Screamdelez” campaign joined by its member unions on every continent. From Pakistan and Tunisia, through North America and Western Europe to Eastern Europe, Mondelez workers and their unions demonstrated to support their Egyptian counterparts. Hundreds of supporters around the world sent protest messages through the LabourStart international website to Irene Rosenthal, Mondelez CEO.

As a result of this campaign, Mondelez agreed to negotiate with the IUF, and following a meeting in Alexandria on July 9th the five executive board members were reinstated to their jobs with full retroactive back pay and benefits. Elections for the new term of the union executive committee at the plant will take place shortly. All five former union executive committee members will be entitled to stand.

In a last effort to avoid reinstating the union officers, local management argued:”But we don’t know how to reinstate them since no company has ever had to do that in Egypt before!” But the Egyptian result may become a precedent for Mondelez workers in other countries. The IUF and Mondelez International jointly stated that:

“This brings the long-running labour conflict in Alexandria to an end. Both local parties have committed to seek to resolve future challenges in a good-faith and constructive manner and, beyond Egypt, Mondelez International and the IUF have agreed “to discuss the lessons learnt from this conflict.”

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One lesson for all trade unionists is the power of global worker solidarity, in winning campaigns that can even transcend sharp national conflicts.  During the Screamdelez campaign delegates at the IUF EECA regional meeting, held in Kyiv {Kiev} on November 4-5, 2013 concluded their discussion on trade union development by a symbolic action in support of the struggling Mondelez workers in Egypt, Pakistan and world-wide. The participants included union leaders and activists from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Global Solidarity with Egyptian, Tunisian and Pakistani Workers Abused by American-based Corporation

Mondelezshareholderby Paul Garver

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. Continue reading

Pakistani Workers Burned Alive Making Jeans and Shoes for Export

by Eric Lee for LabourStart


The horror of it all is almost unimaginable.

Over 300 workers burned and suffocated to death in their workplaces, a garment factory and a shoe factory.

Some died while trying to jump out of windows to safety. There were no emergency exits, no escape routes.

Not in Victorian England in the 19th century. Not in New York City a century ago. But this week, in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

They died in Karachi and in Lahore, making the garments and shoes that you may be wearing right now.

We honour the memory of those lives cut short by demanding justice —

  • an impartial inquiry into what happened – and punishing those at fault;
  • compensation for the families of those killed and injured;
  • and an investigation into the failures of those public authorities who should have been there to ensure the workers’ safety.

The unions in Pakistan are asking us all to take a minute and send off our messages of protest to the Prime Minister.

http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1570&src=lsmm

A detailed statement by the International Labor Rights Forum follows below the line.

Continue reading

Pakistan Coke Workers Win Union Recognition and Permanent Jobs

Coke Union Presidents Ghulam Rasool, Khalid Pervez, Khaista Rehman

by Paul Garver

After a long and bittler struggle 187 workers at the Coke bottling plant in Multan, Pakistan, have won recognition of their People’s Employees’ Union.   Their precarious jobs have been converted into permanent ones, directly employed by Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan Ltd (a joint venture of the Coca-Cola Company and its Turkish-based bottling partner Coca-Cola Icecek).

The agreement was reached after 19 hours of negotiations at the Geneva office of the IUF (International Union of Foodworkers), and was formally signed by the IUF, the Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Icecek following endorsement by the three IUF-affiliated Coca-Cola Workers Unions in Pakistan.

The Global Alliance of Coca-Cola Workers coordinated by the IUF has made the struggle for union rights and for secure permanent employment its global priorities.

 

Continue reading