Published: 05/11/2010

The union of workers at the Heineken brewery in St-Petersburg, Russia held a picket at the plant’s gates on October 18 to highlight their call for negotiations to reverse the creeping expansion of agency labour at the plant. Members of the city’s other unions in the food and beverage sectors took part in the action.

Since last November the union has been in negotiations with Heineken management  to develop a program for safeguarding permanent jobs, including restrictions on the use of agency labour. But after nearly a year, management still insists that it’s only obligation is to respect the minimum requirements of the Labour Code. The union naturally contends that this is hardly a negotiating position, since the Labour Code simply specifies the minimum legal conditions which have to be adhered to.

Eleven months of fruitless negotiations prompted the union to hold a picket to publicly highlight the negotiating deadlock and the wider, negative impact of precarious work on Heineken workers, on trade union rights and on tax revenue and public finances. The union has received support for their struggle from the Heineken European Works Council and the Dutch FNV, in addition to local support from the IUF.