Unilever, the maker of ubiquitous household products including Lipton, Rexona, Lynx, Dove, Omo and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are being criticised for dragging their feet on labour rights in India.
The IUF is losing patience with the way the company is failing to abide by its historic agreement to recognise the workers union in the state of Assam as a bargaining partner, as detailed on the IUF website.
The company’s actions are a bit incongruous considering what a soft image the company promotes, being a founding member of both the Marine Stewardship Council and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
It seems there was a breakdown of relationships in the Doom Dooma site, with the management locking out the 700 members of the worker-elected union and promoting an alternative association set up in its place by the company.
That was in 2007. The union took the case to Indian court as a denial of the right to free association. At the same time they lodged a complaint under the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises with the UK Government contact point, asking it to enforce them on the company which is headquartered in London.
The local Indian court in 2010 ruled that a new union election could proceed and an agreement for a ballot was drawn up that July.
This is now a year ago. The company has thus far failed to hold the promised election at which workers can decide whether they want to be represented by their original union or the one sponsored by the company.
Consumers … you know what you can do …