Four months after their mass termination for joining a union at two warehouses operated for PepsiCo India by Radhakrishna Foodlands (RKFL) the majority of the 162 workers have been forced to return to work under conditions that strip them of their human rights.
Unemployed and facing severe economic hardship the already impoverished contract workers were told they can return to work if they declare they will never again join a union. Summoned one by one they were given a typed statement in Bengali language by management which includes”“I made false accusations against management” and “I will not form a union again and will never be involved in union activities”. They were instructed by management to write this out in their own handwriting and sign it, then hand over the letter. They were then led to believe that this coerced statement is legally binding.
As the global condemnation of PepsiCo escalated in July more workers were summoned by management to return to work at Weaving Manpower Solutions – the labour hire agency that provides labour to the two warehouses under the management of RKFL which exclusively supply the PepsiCo Frito-Lays plant in Howrah, West Bengal. But instead of reinstatement and restoration of their rights they were forced to surrender their rights. Those who refused were told they will never work again and that they will blacklisted by all employers in Howrah industrial city.
Despite threats, harassment and home visits by management 28 unfairly dismissed workers refused to surrender their rights. Instead they formed the PepsiCo (Frito-Lays) Workers Action Committee on August 15 and escalated the campaign.
Since rejoining the labour hire agency Weaving Manpower Solutions and RKFL puts their safety at risk and leaves them vulnerable to further victimisation and harassment, the Action Committee is demanding direct, permanent employment with PepsiCo India.
The PepsiCo (Frito-Lays) Workers Action Committee is demanding that all of its members are reinstated unconditionally on the same day with full back pay and with full recognition of their trade union rights.