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'Sustainability' at Kraft: recycling disposable jobs

23 May 2011 News
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Kraft unions around the world have condemned the brutal suppression of permanent employment for long-serving employees at the company's biscuit factory in Vantaa, Finland, where 24 permanent workers have been handed dismissal notices. Nineteen of the dismissed have been told they can return to employment… on a call-in basis with no guaranteed hours.

Meeting in Åkersberga, Sweden from May 10 to 11, trade union representatives from Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America denounced the planned elimination of permanent employment contracts and the cynical "offer" to the workers losing their jobs to return to work on as precarious, "zero-contract" employees. Of the 24 dismissed, 21 are members of the IUF-affiliated Foodworkers Union SEL; two-thirds of them are women; many have long years of service to the company, in one case as much as 35 years.

With 5 "zero-contract" workers already employed before the dismissals, were the dismissed employees to accept the company's "offer" some 25% of those employed in production and packaging would be without permanent contracts.

Kraft proudly displays its waste-reduction and recycling achievements as a key element in its "sustainability" program, but when it comes to employment the company is creating disposable jobs and recycling them on a daily basis: no work, no pay, no benefits.

IUF General Secretary condemned the latest assault on decent jobs as another in a long series of attacks on the workers who have contributed to the company's profitable growth yet are paying the price for escalating rewards to investors.

"This is the company", said Oswald, "which eliminated close to 19,000 jobs over the 4 years from 2004-2008 to pay for rising dividends and share buybacks. Investor appetites, it seems, have continued to grow in the wake of the Cadbury acquisition as Kraft settles into its role as a 'global snacks powerhouse' feeding on those who make the snacks."

The meeting pledged its full support to the Finnish workers and to Kraft unions around the world struggling to resist the pressure to cut jobs even as the company's profits grow.