AB InBev India: Union temporarily suspends picket line to protect workers and community in COVID-19 crisis
After 763 days of picketing in front of AB InBev's factory in Sonepat to protest the unfair termination of union leaders, the Haryana Breweries Limited Mazdoor Union (HBLMU) temporarily closed its picket line on March 22.
The union recognizes the importance of restricted movement, staying indoors and physical distancing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and decided to temporarily close the picket line to reduce any possible risk for union members and the local community.
HBLMU is assisting union members to complete the AB InBev COVID-19 Health Survey and is in contact with members to identify their needs at this challenging time. Since the majority of workers are migrants from other states, the union has supported members to remain where they are and avoid travel.
Despite being unfairly terminated 3 years and 8 months ago, Deshraj, the General Secretary of the HBLMU is closely coordinating with factory management to ensure that union members needed for essential work at the factory are able to report for duty under safe conditions. Management received government permission to transport workers to and from the factory during the lock-down to maintain essential operations at the plant. The union is working hard to ensure safety at work as well as protection from police harassment and legal action from the government authorities during the lock-down. Despite unresolved trade union rights violations, HBLMU has openly committed to support the company to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
Terminated union leader Deshraj, HBLMU General Secretary, closed the picket line temporarily on March 22 and maintains communication with management to ensure the safety of union members in the COVID-19 emergency.