Pakistán - Unilever’s abuse finally ends in settlement for tea workers (2010)

In recent years, Unilever has been systematically employing temporary workers, who have been unable to join the company union and have received far lower wages and benefits. In October, a negotiated settlement between Unilever and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) finally resolved the conflict over the rights of precarious workers at the company’s last directly-owned Lipton/Brooke Bond tea factory in Khanewal, Pakistan.

Previously, the factory had employed 22 permanent workers - union members covered by a collective agreement - while another 723 workers had been hired through six contract labour agencies. The contract workers organised an action committee, and the Unilever Mazdoor Union Khanewal supported by the National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers of Pakistan helped them file petitions to obtain permanent employment, union membership and better conditions. Unilever responded by denying work, threatening and demoting those who joined the action committee while hiring new contract labour.

The settlement between the IUF and Unilever includes new permanent positions for action committee members, 200 additional direct permanent jobs, lump sum payments to contract workers to make up for missing social security and pensions and importantly the non-discrimination of union members.

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