Published: 21/01/2003

Trade unions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay representing over 1½ million food industry workers met in Buenos Aires on 11-12 December.

The workshop organised by the IUF Latin American Region was held under the auspices of the CASIA (Confederación de Asociaciones Sindicales de las Industrias Alimenticias, or Confederation of Food Industry Trade Unions), and took place on the premises of the UTHGRA food workers’ union and of the FTIA (Federación de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Alimentación, or Food Industry Workers’ Federation).

During the workshop, an analysis was made of the situation of workers in the industry, and lines of action were defined. One of the matters discussed concerned the serious consequences that have resulted from successive adjustment policies, and the introduction of a model of fierce concentration of capital and wealth: these factors have brought about a drastic reduction in the number of workers, marked precariousness in conditions of employment, and increasing deterioration of the environment. Discussions during the workshop identified elements that are common to the actions of transnationals in the various countries, including the concentration, acquisition and closure of competing enterprises, the granting by governments of substantial tax benefits, a decline in the number of jobs, and a combination of higher productivity and a fall in salaries and employment.

Delegates in the region also agreed about the application of policies of a clearly anti-union nature and, as part of the strategies defined in the course of the workshop, it was resolved:

* to establish committees responsible for organising regional Parmalat, Danone and Nestlé conferences in the coming year;
* to draw up a joint document setting out the real situation of workers in the region;
* to set up an IUF Latin American Region database containing salary levels, conditions of employment, social protection information, and details of monitoring the policies and activities of transnationals, their networks around the world, and their impact in the region.