Unilever PLC V International Union of Food Workers (IUF) (Rahim Yar Kahn I, Pakistan)

Overview

NCP Decision Accepted
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 21/11/2007
Date Closed 27/10/2008
Case Duration 48 weeks and 5 days
Host Country Pakistan  (Non-adhering country)
Sector Food, Agriculture and Tobacco 
Issue(s) Precarious work that undermines freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively in violation of ILO Conventions 87 and 98
Provisions Cited II.1  IV.1-a   
Related Cases Unilever PLC - Pakistan (Rahim Yar Kahn II) V International Union of Food Workers (IUF)
Case Description On 21st November 2007, the international trade union body the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) submitted a complaint to the UK NCP concerning alleged breaches of the guidelines by a Unilever subsidiary, Unilever Pakistan Ltd.

At the end of September 2007, the union at the company’s factory in Rahim Yar Kahn, Pakistan decided to open membership to temporary workers. This was followed by individual petitions in the labour court, in order to obtain permanent employment status as those that had worked for more than nine months of continuous service were entitled to permanent contracts. In response, management issued termination letters to all 292 temporary workers on the 20th October 2007. They were then gathered into a meeting room with armed police and forced to sign the letters. Five workers nevertheless refused. The rest of the workers were immediately replaced by casual agency workers.

The IUF contended that these events were part of the company’s strategy to reduce systematically the permanent staff - only 509 remain out of some 8000 employees. The Rahim Yar Khan plant had 1200 permanent workers in 1970. In 2007, there were only 250.

Developments The UK NCP accepted the case at the beginning of April 2008. By then, a group of the dismissed temporary workers had founded the Action Committee for the Dismissed Workers of Unilever Rahim Yar Kahn supported by the IUF.

On 27th October 2008, the IUF submitted a new case on behalf of those workers in October 2008.

Organisations

Lead NCP UK NCP : Bi-ministerial plus Multi-stakeholder Independent Board 

Companies

Multinational Company Unilever PLC (Home country: UK, Netherlands)
Subsidiary Unilever Rahim Yar Kahn Pakistan (Home country: Pakistan)
Subsidiary Unilever Pakistan Ltd. (Home country: Pakistan)

Complainants

Lead Complainant International Union of Food Workers (IUF) : Global Union Federation 

Related Documents

IUF  [Publication date: 1/7/2009] 'Settlement Secures Permanent Jobs for Dismissed Temps at Unilever Pakistan Rahim Yar Khan'
   http://www.iuf.org/cgi-bin/dbman/db.cgi?db=default&uid=default&ID=6016&view_rec
   ords=1&ww=1&en=1
[Date URL accessed: 5/7/2009]

UK NCP  [Publication date: 13/8/2009] 'Final Statement by the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: Complaint from the IUF against Unilever plc on Pakistan’s Rahim Yar Khan factory'
   http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file52704.doc [Date URL accessed: 17/4/2010]

TUAC Analysis

Did the NCP publish its initial assessment? status-icon
Did the case involve parallel proceedings? status-icon
Was the existence of parallel proceedings an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Was the businsess relationship other than that of a subsidiary? status-icon
Was the nature of the business relationship an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its acceptance of this case? status-icon
Did the NCP offer mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the company accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the complainant(s) accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation held? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation conducted by a professional mediator? status-icon
Did the parties reach agreement? status-icon
If yes, did the NCP publish this agreement following the consent of the parties? status-icon
If mediation was refused or failed did the NCP make an assessment of whether the company had breached the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP conduct in-host country fact finding? status-icon
Did the NCP make recommendations to the company on the future implementation of the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP publish its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP provide for follow-up of the agreement/recommendations? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP inform public pension funds about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP apply any consequences in this case? status-icon
Did the NCP follow the indicative timescales set out in the procedural guidance? status-icon
Was there a positive outcome for the workers involved in this case? status-icon
Did the filing of the case under the Guidelines have a positive impact for the workers involved? status-icon
Did the lead NCP play a positive role? status-icon
If different, did the home NCP play a positive role? status-icon

Implications

According to the IUF this settlement "constitutes an important union victory in the fight against disposable jobs and Unilever's strategy of reducing bargaining power by radically the shrinking the number of permanent employees eligible for union membership and inclusion in the collective bargaining unit."