Unilever Plc V International Union of Food Workers (Khanewal, Pakistan)

Overview

NCP Decision Accepted
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 06/03/2009
Date Closed 20/11/2009
Case Duration 37 weeks and 0 days
Host Country Pakistan  (Non-adhering country)
Sector Food, Agriculture and Tobacco 
Issue(s) Elimination of direct employment and extensive use of temporary employment contracts thus undermining the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining
Provisions Cited II.1  II.4  II.9  IV.1-a   
Case Description In March 2009, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) raised a case against Unilever concerning workers at a factory owned by Unilever which employed over 700 workers of which only 22 were directly employed by Unilever and therefore eligible to be recognised for collective bargaining with Unilever. The submission argued that precarious employment was deliberately employed as means to deny rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining with the real employer - ie. Unilever.
Developments The UK accepted the case. It invited both parties to accept the UK NCP sponsored conciliation/mediation process. Both parties accepted the offer. The NCP appointed ACAS2 arbitrator and mediator John Mulholland to serve as conciliator-mediator.

An initial conciliation meeting took place on 15 October 2009 in London and a second conciliation on 21 October 2009. The meetings were chaired by Mr Mulholland.

Outcome No mediation was required as the parties agreed a mutually acceptable solution to the complaint through conciliation.

The IUF and Unilever agreed that there would be change in the model of employment based on a combination of directly employed permanent labour and contract agency workers. Unilever also agreed to create 200 permanent positions.

The Action Committee members agreed to withdraw all court petitions.

The full text of the agreement reached by the parties is attached as an Annex to the UK NCP's Final Statement.

Organisations

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

Companies

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

Complainants

Lead Complainant International Union of Food Workers (IUF) : Global Union Federation 
Affected Party National Federation of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Workers of Pakistan : National Union 

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

TUAC Assessment

This is a highly positive outcome. As a result of the process the number of workers in direct employment was raised from 22 to 222, thus widening the basis for union membership and establishing the principle that the use of precarious employment undermines freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively was legitimate grounds for a case.

Implications

This is a landmark in that the NCP accepted a case built on the argument that the use of precarious employment constitutes a fundamental attack on workers' rights to freedom of association and to bargain collectively

Related Documents

UK NCP  [Publication date: 20/11/2009] 'OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises Complaint from the IUF against Unilever plc on Pakistan’s Khanewal factory'
   http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file53915.pdf [Date URL accessed: 17/4/2010]