The IUF-affiliated Schreiber Dynamix Dairies Employees Union, which represents 350 members, launched a campaign in early 2010 to rectify the systematic inequality and discrimination faced by contract workers. More than half the workforce of 700 was based on contract labour and of the 128 women workers at the factory, 125 were contract workers and only 3 had permanent jobs. The company responded with a series of attacks on the union, including suspending the union president and fabricating criminal charges against him, while bringing in powerful local politicians to stop the union. Management then terminated 200 contract workers.
In response, IUF affiliates in India mobilized in support of the Schreiber Dynamix Dairies Employees Union through the Dairy Employees Federation of India (DEFOI) and its fight against abusive precarious employment practices. Solidarity rallies were held across India, including actions by unions in Nestlé, Unilever, PepsiCo and GSK Horlicks whose branded products are made at the Schreiber Dynamix factory.
The IUF engaged one of Scheiber’s customers, Danone. As a result Danone asked Schreiber’s corporate US headquarters to explain the conflict. That pressure continues today with the IUF seeking further action from Danone in questioning the abusive practices of one of its suppliers.
While the union president still faces legal action, his suspension was withdrawn and he returned to work. Management has stopped its attacks on the union and negotiations have taken place, including the renegotiation of the collective agreement. As a result of negotiations around the issue of precarious employment, more than 100 contract workers have been made permanent. Meanwhile the union, with the support of DEFOI and the IUF India office, continues to fight for the reinstatement of the remaining 100 contract workers who were terminated during the protest rallies calling for the right to permanent jobs.