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Unilever Accused of Serial Rights Violations at the OECD - Discrimination and Union-busting at Lipton/Brooke Bond

Posted to the IUF website 07-Mar-2009

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Destroying permanent jobs - could it make the most profitable beverage in the world?

Unilever is once more in the dock at the OECD, this time for massive abuse of casual labour at its Lipton/Brooke Bond tea factory in Khanewal, Pakistan .

The IUF on March 6 filed a formal submission with the OECD National Contact Point in Unilever Plc's home country, the UK. The IUF submission follows a similar action last November concerning Unilever practices in Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan, 2 over the past 3 years in India, and an ITF submission last year concerning union-busting by Unilever in Turkey. All of these cases are currently ongoing.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises require overseas subsidiaries of transnational companies to conform to international standards of trade union and human rights.

Unilever's Khanewal factory employs 22 permanent workers, union members who are covered by a collective agreement. But another 723 workers are hired through six contract labour agencies, paid a third the wages of the permanent workers, and denied pension and other benefits. They are excluded from membership in the union which bargains with Unilever. The IUF submission to the OECD demonstrates that the systematic abuse of casual hiring through the agencies constitutes an entrenched system of brutal discrimination:

A system of employment practices at Unilever Pakistan has been consciously established and systematically widened with the goal of reducing to an absolute minimum the size of the employee collective bargaining unit with the employer.

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