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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide


Kraft Union Representatives Hold First Global Meeting, Set Action Plan

Posted to the IUF website 13-Feb-2006

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Kraft’s “Sustainable Growth” initiative may not be working for the company or its employees, concluded the first-ever global meeting of Kraft union representatives from around the world.

Representatives of Kraft workers from North America, Europe, Latin American, Asia and Africa came together under the auspices of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), the global federation of unions in the food processing and related industries, to meet in New York on February 9-11. The unions attending the three-day session represent most organized Kraft workers around the world.

The participating unions shared information on the company’s restructuring initiatives announced in 2004 and last week, and reviewed Kraft’s overall performance and the impact of the cost cutting program on workers and product quality. Reports from union representatives raised concerns that Kraft was not developing new products or ensuring the value of its branded products, but instead focusing exclusively on cost-cutting.

The worker representatives also expressed concerns about Kraft’s human resource policies and practices. While Kraft has been relatively forthcoming about its plans with analysts and the business press, the company's communications with workers and their unions has become less transparent. Information regarding plant closings and the effects of other restructuring measures has been selectively withheld. Kraft’s responsibility for product quality and labour standards at external contract manufacturers, and its position regarding union representation were also issues of concern.

The unions agreed to pursue global initiatives of their own at Kraft. Their network of unions will be formalized in a Kraft Working Group under the leadership of the IUF. The Working Group will facilitate a continuing exchange of information and international activity. A smaller Contact Group has been mandated to reach out to Kraft senior global management to discuss the workers’ concerns and report back to the Working Group.

“From this point forward our unions will work together to ensure that the workers who produce Kraft’s profits are part of its future and benefit from real growth and the improvement in the company’s fortunes,” said IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald.