PepsiCo Pakistan workers speak out: why we need the union the company refuses to recognize!
Union member Samina Mehboob: "I have been working for 11 years as a packer at PepsiCo FritoLay. In 2008, I fell from the machine I was cleaning and was knocked unconscious. I lay on the floor for almost two hours before I was brought to the hospital. I needed 10 stitches in my head. The company did not pay any of my medical costs so I had to spend all of my money on the treatments and medicines. After four days I had to go back to work again because I didn't want to lose my daily wage. I want PepsiCo to provide workers with medical coverage."
Union member Anwar Bibi: "I have been working at PepsiCo FritoLay Factory in Lahore for five years in the waste department under the no work, no pay system. I always arrived at the factory at 5:00 AM and if I am late only for few minutes I will not get the work because my position is already filled by another woman contract worker that arrived earlier than me. Together with the other women contract workers, we gather in front of the factory gate every day wondering if we can get work. If I don't get the job, I wasted my time and have to pay my transport back home. The company says this is not their problem - but then who is responsible for that?"
Union member Khadim Hussain: "I came to work at PepsiCo in 2009 and since then I have been working under precarious conditions, with no guaranteed work for the next day. I've worked in various departments, for the last three years working as a loader in the scrap department. I have a problem with my leg and can't carry weight but management never considered that and put me in the loader department. I've complained to my supervisors many times but no action has been taken. After joining the union, management put pressure on me and offered to transfer me to another department if I would quit the union. I refused this offer and my position remains precarious. I stand with my union and demand permanent employment status!"
Women workers have been extremely active in the fight for union rights at PepsiCo's Lahore factory, demonstrating regularly to demand union recognition and permanent employment status. Yet they are invisible: the most recent factory inspection report, from March 2016, fails to even indicate their presence in the factory. The report, however, notes that of the more than 1500 workers employed at the factory over the past year, only 134 had permanent employment status.
The workers are determined to defend their union that was officially recognized and granted collective bargaining status in July. PepsiCo has responded to this demand for rights and recognition by harassing and threatening union officers, pressuring workers to leave the union and creating a bogus union to usurp collective bargaining rights.