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Polish Unions Rally Against Anti-Union Aggression at PepsiCo Frito-Lay

Posted to the IUF website 19-Jan-2006

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Over 800 trade unionists from across the country rallied on January 18 at the Warsaw headquarters of Frito-Lay Poland, a subsidiary of PepsiCo International, to show their solidarity with the union at the company's snack food plant in nearby Grodzisk and to protest the latest outrage in an ongoing series of anti-union aggressions by the company.

Following the illegal sacking on December 14 of the chairman of the union which has been defending the victims and witnesses of sexual harassment at the plant, the company has intensified pressure on workers to renounce their union membership (click here for background). On January 13 management distributed a letter to all employees, to be returned to the union plant committee, announcing their withdrawal from the union. The letter concludes by stating that "that it is my will to resign my trade union membership as of today." Employees were instructed to sign the letters in the presence of witnesses and to return them within 5 days.

Speakers at the rally stressed their determination to fight for the respect of fundamental trade union rights at PepsiCo, while the many banners and posters on display denounced he company's repeated violations of national law and international Conventions. In the course of the demonstration, a union delegation including Miroslaw Nowicki, head of the Solidarnosc Foodworkerss Secretariat, regional chairman Jerzy Wozniak and an IUF representative entered the company to present a petition to the corporate directors. The petition called for the reinstatement of the dismissed women, the union chairman, and an end to the illegal intimidation of union members. Frito-lay received the petition, but - as they have persistently done - rejected the union's call for negotiations based on respect for fundamental rights at the workplace.

Frito-Lay management had organized a company anti-union demonstration the previous day, giving several dozen workers holiday leave and organizing transport. Grodzisk workers seeking to attend the Warsaw demonstration, however, were refused leave.

New steps in the ongoing campaign are underway in Poland and internationally.