Published: 13/07/2011

The following highlights the journey so far:

·         2006 (mid) – IUF Regional Secretary Ma during the staff meeting of IUF India Outreach posed an idea, viz.  whether we could explore the possibility of an umbrella organization for dairy sector employees.

·         Late 2006 till March 2007 – initial contacts with dairy workers unions in the states of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and West Bengal were   established and as the responses of these unions were positive, work continued.

·         2007 April – the first exploratory meeting was held in Goa — 35 participants from unions in 12 dairy plants (Maharastra, Gujerat, Goa and Andhra Pradesh)   were present.   There after three more meetings (held at Mehsana, Jaipur and Goa) were held where unions from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab state dairy employees federation respectively   attended while those from Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh were not present.

·         2007 Sept – meeting was held in Mehsana (in the state of Gujerat).  The meeting was attended by over 78 delegates from 21 dairy unions from 7 states of India – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

·         2007 Dec – Oza (from the IUF Bombay Outreach Office) visited North India to establish contacts in 5 states: Rajasthan, Delhi, UP, Haryana and Punjab. Of these, the most positive response was in Uttar Pradesh. However more work needed to be done in Delhi, Rajasthan, and Haryana. 

·         2008 March  – meeting in Jaipur (Rajasthan) – delegates came from  federations  from  Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab as did union  leaders from  South and  West  zones; 130 delegates from 90 plant based unions (from states of Maharastra, Goa, Gujerat, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Karnataka)  participated. Angus McConnell from NZDWU was present. 

·         2008 June  – by then,  102 local dairy unions were contacted of which 39 are part of the State level Federation in Uttar Pradesh, and 12 are part of the state level Federation in Punjab. (Later, contacts were made with 13 local dairy unions, part of the Karnataka Federation led by Bamul Union in Bangalore.   

·         2008 Sept 16, 17  – at a big meeting  in Goa  attended by 75 delegates (from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujerat and  Maharastra) ,   an unanimous decision to form  DEFOI and formed an Ad Hoc Committee was carried .

·         2008 Oct 17,18 – Pune meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee – attended by committee members ; all paid their Rs 500 membership fee ;  Draft constitution was prepared.  It was agreed that General Secretary Puti Goankar proceed with application for registration in Goa.

·         2009 June –  Registration of DEFOI was obtained  ;

·         2009 June – Meeting in Delhi.  Attended by Regional Secretary Ma and Angus McConnell of NZDWU.  This meeting was a turning point. A Unity Declaration was issued which was signed by 17 delegates from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, West Bengal, Maharastra and Goa.   All the participants accepted individually assigned responsibility for DEFOI’s organizing work.  (The Delhi meeting also outlined and identified key problems in the dairy industry.) 

·         2009 July – a Wage Comparison chart was compiled by the IUF India Outreach Office and sent out to all DEFOI members to aid their collective bargaining.

·         2009 Dec – regional meeting in Bangalore was held. It was attended by 31 delegates from 9 local unions from Karnataka state – all decided to join DEFOI and signed the Delhi Declaration of Unity under DEFOI.

·         2010 Feb: held first general body meeting of DEFOI in Goa which decided, among other matters, on affiliation to IUF. DEFOI became affiliated in May 2010 with 2,400 members.  At this time, DEFOI dues paying membership was around 2,700 and total membership represented was around 10,000.

·         2010 April 26 – DEFOI held a successful Dharna (demonstration) in Delhi with 360 participants from different states  to highlight their demand for  implementation of the 6th Pay Commission’s recommendations ; 

·         2010 July – 

o   a regional meeting in Bangalore (Karnataka)  was held where 9  unions from  Karnataka  were present and all resolved to join DEFOI.

o   Also a meeting in Ludhiana (Punjab) was held in July 2010; where 8 local unions resolved to join DEFOI; (Unions from Nestle, GSK, Pepsico and Unilever also participated in this meeting with IUF representatives, resulting in the formation of a communications forum for the area.)

·         2010 –  Problems  brought to DEFOI for solidarity :  

o   Over 1,600 workers from 39 dairy plants in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are owed unpaid wages from 2 months to 26 months; The UP PCDF (DEFOI member) had a rally in Lucknow (capital city of UP) on March 26, 2010, where 600 workers participated. At this rally, their leaders were arrested but were released immediately when members reacted by stopping work in 39 plants.  In September 2010, DEFOI send a fact-finding team to Uttar Pradesh to investigate the crisis in unpaid wage; they also took part in six various protest meetings held by PCDF in 6 different places covering all districts.

·         2011 Feb – a DEFOI Executive Committee meeting was held to prepare the Agenda for the Annual General Body Meeting scheduled for March.

·         2011 March – Second General Body Meeting of DEFOI held in Goa. At this meeting, awareness of the need to promote the participation of women in unions in the dairy sector increased with the presence of the AAVIN Women Employees Society from Tamil Nadu. (AAVIN is a brand name of milk produced by the Tamil Nadu Co-op).   Problem of unequal pay for women, night shift problem, no transport, no adequate facilities for women were reported. Hitherto unaffiliated unions present reported their intention to seek affiliation. 

·         DEFOI expected their dues paying membership in 2011 is likely to go up to 3,331 from 2,521 in 2010. Their current representational membership has reached 10,000.