When in 2011 Ferrero opened the Baramati plant through its wholly owned subsidiary, Imsofer Manufacturing, the Group CEO Giovanni Ferrero declared it would ” provide work for 1300 people (80% of them women) residing in the proximity of the plant.”
The company did not explain that only 378 workers would be directly employed as permanent by Ferrero and another 1,400 workers would be casual workers employed through labour hire agencies on minimum wages with no social or health protection. Over 900 (65%) of the precarious workers on poverty wages are women.
Many workers must travel long distances to and from the factory. Transportation is only provided for permanent workers while casual workers are forced to stand by the side of the road for hours before sunrise and after sunset to hitch rides on passing vehicles. This extremely dangerous practice exposes women workers to sexual harassment and violence.
The Imsofer Manufacturing Employees Union has fought for two years for improved safety for women workers, an end to discrimination in wages and equal access to transportation. When the union submitted its collective bargaining demands in 2012, management refused to negotiate in good faith. No progress was made after 32 meetings and management threatened reductions in the workforce.
Faced with the refusal of management to negotiate for nearly two years, the union launched a series of mass meetings and protests on March 25, 2014. The protests continue despite harassment and intimidation by management.