Published: 23/05/2013

The IUF and US unions called on corporate management to rectify human rights abuses in dramatic interventions at the company’s first-ever shareholder meeting near Chicago on May 21. Mondelez workers and union supporters rallied outside to emphasize their concerns.

IUF general secretary Ron Oswald told the meeting “I traveled here from Switzerland because the people in this room, especially those who serve as directors and senior management at this company, need to know that Mondelez has violated and continues to violate the human rights of its workers in countries in North Africa, notably countries where people have made huge sacrifices in recent years to advance democracy and their access to these exact human rights.”

In both Tunisia and Egypt, Oswald said, “Mondelez has attempted to squash independent and democratic union representation by firing union leaders. It has refused to bargain in good faith with its workers. These workers are seeking the same universal human rights that employees of Mondelez have elsewhere, including here in the United States.”

John Howard, Secretary-Treasurer of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 1, said that “Mondelez ought to be a leader in countries like Egypt where people have risked their lives for democracy.  What will Mondelez do to remedy violations of its own workers’ rights in Egypt and why do they reject the offer of dialogue made repeatedly by the IUF?”

Brandon Rees, acting director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, emphasized the need to comply with international human rights standards: “The United Nations has adopted new guidelines on business and human rights known as the Ruggie Principles. This means that companies must take steps to avoid human rights violations. They must ‘know and show’ that they are respecting human rights. These human rights include the rights of workers to unionize and collectively bargain.”

Outside the meeting, BCTGM and other union members in the Chicago area showed their solidarity and support with leaflets and banners.

Will Mondelez listen?