Unions demand justice for PepsiCo workers
It has been reported on the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) website that 162 Pepsico workers out of a workforce of170 have been fired in West Bengal for exercising their right to join a union.
According to the IUF, a federation of unions, after workers submitted documents for registering the union in February this year, the management immediately threatened the workers with dismissal if they persisted with their activities.
PepsiCo India managers hired some local union-busting thugs who assaulted the workers and the company dismissed 50 workers as a first reaction to unionisation.
In response to these attacks the union went on a one-day warning strike from midnight of 29 April 2013. The workers, along with the union leaders, also made a police complaint about coordinated threats and assaults by management. However no action was taken by the police. Unions then reported that management fired a further 112 workers without any notice in retaliation for the action.
PepsiCo also stands accused of using labour contractors that are not officially licensed (something that is mandatory under India labour laws). Workers are therefore not paid the current minimum wages set since January 1, 2013 and no social security payments are made for them as required by law.
In response, PepsiCo sent this statement on 13th July:
PepsiCo has strong policies in place to promote and protect the dignity and fair treatment of our associates. We hold our suppliers to the same standards of integrity to which we hold ourselves, and all suppliers must comply with our Supplier Code of Conduct as a condition of doing business with PepsiCo. Our Supplier Code of Conduct is publicly available on our website (http://www.pepsico.com/Purpose/Responsible-Sourcing/Supplier-Code-of-Conduct.html). We have zero tolerance for discrimination or mistreatment of any kind.
The workers in this instance were employed by Weaving Manpower Solutions, a sub-contractor retained by Radhakrishna Foodland Private Ltd (RKFL) to run the warehouse operations for PepsiCo.
PepsiCo takes human rights issues very seriously and immediately conducted a thorough investigation upon learning of the allegations. Our investigation has found no evidence of human rights violations. The local Assistant Labour Commissioner’s office also conducted its own independent investigation and found that the RKFL facility was in compliance with all applicable labour laws.
It is our understanding that RKFL is having productive and substantive talks with the local union, INTUC, in the hopes of reaching an appropriate resolution to any outstanding issues.
Campaigners have now set up an international email campaign asking consumers to email the company in solidarity with those that have lost their jobs and asking demand that PepsiCo start negotiations with the union so that an agreement can be reached.
Pepsico will feature in a product guide to soft drinks due out in August 2013.
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