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Mondelez rejects US government offer to mediate disputes over allegations of human rights abuses

30 October 2013 News
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Mondelez has refused a US government offer of mediation to resolve disputes with the IUF over anti-union practices in Egypt and Tunisia which the IUF claims violate the OECD’s Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

The US National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines offered its good offices in response to a submission by the IUF made in March this year. The NCP, whose assessment of the submission and its outcome is available on the government website here, found the IUF’s allegations to be, in its words, bona fide, legitimate, material and substantiated. Mondelez responded to the IUF complaint by denying that it had violated the Guidelines. At that stage in the procedure the NCP invited both parties to enter into mediation to try to find a resolution. The IUF accepted; Mondelez refused.

The procedure for bringing a complaint against a multinational company under the Guidelines is a“soft law” (non-judicial) instrument. The NCP made it clear that “a decision to participate in this process would not imply any prima facie admission of conduct inconsistent with the Guidelines.” The process has no legal consequences and either party can walk away from the mediation at any stage. If Mondelez were serious about identifying and rectifying alleged abuses, they would have much to gain from participating in the process.

Nonetheless, Mondelez refused.

Why is Mondelez afraid to talk to the IUF, when many of their competitors in the food sector not only talk to but have a structured relationship with the IUF for addressing issues involving rights?

Despite the Mondelez rejection of mediation, the NCP recommends that Mondelez talk with the IUF to resolve the disputes. Will Mondelez walk away again?