Transnational agro-food giant Cargill is following in the footsteps of its fellow US-based food company Mondelez in seeking to destroy a democratic union of workers at their factory in Egypt.
Workers at the Cargill-owned National Vegetable Oil Company in Alexandria established their union on March 1, 2012 in the wake of a dispute over the profit-sharing distribution to employees. Following the satisfactory resolution of the dispute, constructive industrial relations were established in the plant. This ended in August 2013 when a new management team was brought in.
First they announced that the agreements signed with the previous management were null and void and a new employee relations policy would be introduced. Then they began harassing workers, looking for minor infractions, issuing warnings and threatening workers with dismissal.
To protest the arbitrary punishments and the deteriorating work environment, the workers held a sit-in on December 15, 2013.
Management’s response was to shut the factory and put 84 workers (out of 122 in the plant) on extended leave.
The workers continued the sit-in in the plant until December 23, when they were forcibly removed by thugs with attack dogs.
The factory was re-opened on January 13, 2014 and replacement labour hired in.
While management prevents them from returning to work, the workers maintain their picket in the factory parking lot. In defiance of the law, Cargill has begun issuing dismissal letters to workers.
The Union of National Vegetable Oil Employees (Cargill Egypt) has asked the IUF for support in informing Cargill central management and Cargill workers around the world of the situation in Alexandria. The protest continues until Cargill management agrees to negotiate!
(This article has been copied from the website of the ‘ International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) and can be viewed here)