Members of UNITE at UK Cadbury are joining forces with fellow workers in Egypt by ‘twinning’ their unions to challenge human rights violations by Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez International.
On May 2-3 Unite hosted two sacked union leaders from the Alexandria Cadbury plant – Nasr Awad and Hussein Ahmad – 2 of the the 5 founding members of an independent union who were brutally dismissed last year as part of the company’s drive to crush the union. They met with union activists and politicians at the Council House in Birmingham, addressed the Birmingham Trades Union Council and then twinned their organizations in a ceremony with UNITE Cadbury workers at the Cadbury Bourneville Club.
Trades Union Council members were shocked and outraged to hear first-hand the brutal conditions under which Alexandria Cadbury workers produce “delicious moments of joy”. “Health and safety is a huge problem at the Alexandria plant”, said Nasr Awad, who almost lost a finger in an accident in 2004. He was more fortunate than Ahmad Abdulgani, a contract worker whose thumb was partially severed in a 2011 workplace accident. Abdulgani was sacked without compensation and has not found work since the accident.
Concerns for the future of the Cadbury business were forcibly expressed at the meeting with local community leaders and politicians at the Birmingham City Council the same day. Councilor Ian Ward and city council Chair Sir Albert Bore spoke of the general insecurity about the future of the Bourneville plant, which plays a key role in the local economy. Cadbury was once a business which respected the local community and workforce Since the Kraft takeover, and now Mondelez, everything had changed.
On May 3. UNITE members from all UK Mondelez sites gathered in Bournville and in a twinning ceremony pledged to join forces with workers and their union at Mondelez Egypt to build solidarity across the company – Watch the Unite video here.
“Our members take this unjust attack on fellow sisters and brothers in Egypt very seriously and they will not stand by,” said UNITE national officer Jennie Formby.
“We have approached the company at all levels, hoping to resolve these issues, but the company does’ not respond”, said Barrie Roberts, member of the Mondelez European Works Council. “We must be louder to make the company respect, listen and talk to us”.
“Mondelez is a company that has repeatedly demonstrated that it has little respect or concern for its workforce and their employment rights”, declared Formby. “The twinning is a one more step towards building a truly international response to it – from now on we will fight-back together to defend workers’ rights across the company”.