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New Casualties in Casual-T Campaign: 'Ethical' Unilever Denies Employment to Lipton Workers Challenging Disposable Jobs

Posted to the IUF website 02-May-2009

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While Unilever corporate managers were meeting with the IUF in London, in talks under the aegis of the UK government, the company's Pakistan management was engaged in vicious, discriminatory reprisals against workers employed under the "no work, no pay" system at its Lipton tea factory in Khanewal, Pakistan.

In response to the IUF's latest Unilever submission to the OECD , the UK government called for good faith negotiations to resolve issues arising from Unilever Pakistan's egregious abuses of employment and trade union rights, beginning with the retaliatory firing of close to 300 workers at the company's factory in Rahim Yar Khan . While these talks were beginning in London, the IUF learned that nearly two-thirds of the 237 contract agency workers who have joined the Action Committee to demand permanent employment status at Khanewal had been sent home without pay due to a “production downturn” for the week of April 27 to May 2. This included the shut down of the entire night shift (and the denial of employment to 120 workers). This has never happened before - customary practice is to reassign night workers to the two earlier shifts. "Seasonal" demand for tea is unknown in Pakistan, a nation of tea drinkers.

At the same time, new contract workers are being engaged to handle a considerable increase in production from May 2 on - but they won't be hired from among the group of those who are fighting against disposable jobs. The "no work" part of "no work, no pay" looks set to continue. The move is clearly intended to punish Action Committee members and supporters and create new divisions and competition for poverty-level wages in an area where few jobs are on offer.

Unilever Pakistan has descended to new levels of abusive discrimination in its continuing efforts to thwart the Khanewal workers' fight for justice.


Slaves built the pyramids - Unilever casual workers build pyramid tea!


Shortly before this new assault took place, the "Ethisphere Institute" placed Unilever high on its 2009 rankings of "the world's most ethical companies". "Unilever has proven to be one of the world leaders in upholding high ethical standards, making it a true standout in its industry, especially as unethical business actions and decisions grab headlines each day," said Alex Brigham, Executive Director, Ethisphere Institute. "The competition for this year’s World’s Most Ethical Companies was very strong and we applaud Unilever for rising to the top."

STOP EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE KHANEWAL ACTION COMMITTEE WORKERS - CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO UNILEVER!

Tell corporate management to halt repression and retaliation. The Lipton Khanewal temporary workers must be given permanent employment status - and the way to implement this is through direct negotiations with the affiliated National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers of Pakistan.