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Concerns over workers’ treatment

Action call on DHL’s Latin American ‘abuses’
Shaun Noble, Friday, March 4th, 2016

Unite is raising concerns about the way global logistics giant DHL treats its workers in Latin America after a report found the company guilty of breaking its own – and international – rules.


The union says that it has ‘a healthy relationship’ with the DHL management in the UK, but wishes to show solidarity with employees in other countries where the alleged abuses of the workforce have taken place.


Unite has about 16,000 members working for DHL in the UK.


The independent investigation – www.breaking-the-code.org – carried out in Chile, Colombia and Panama, exposes serious abuses and failings in the way the German-based multinational behaves.


Line in the sand

Unite national officer for logistics, Matt Draper, said: “We are drawing a line in the sand about  what is allegedly happening to DHL staff in Central and Latin America to underline that this sort of behaviour has no place in the UK’s industrial landscape.


“While we have a healthy and good working relationship with DHL’s management in the UK. Unite, as the country’s largest union, wants to show strong solidarity with our comrades in the Americas.


“We will be raising the research with the DHL management in UK so they can feed it back our serious concerns to the senior echelons of the company in Germany to ensure that these abuses are stamped out as a matter of priority.”


Unite’s concerns follows similar findings in previous research carried out at DHL sites in India (http://goo.gl/KCRCiS) and Turkey (http://goo.gl/zE6FV5).


Today’s (Friday 4 March) shock report is released as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) talks between DHL and the global unions came to an end.


Breaches international standards

Steve Cotton, general secretary of The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said: “These talks have failed to improve conditions for DHL workers. While we were negotiating in good faith, DHL was continuing to treat its workers in a way that breaches international standards.


“It’s time for DHL to engage in a robust, transparent process in consultation with staff and their unions to improve working conditions at the company and ensure freedom of association for all of its workers worldwide.”


The report includes the story of a worker who sustained chronic injuries due to poor training, the case of 42 workers sacked for union activity, evidence of DHL faking a customer letter to fire the son of a union official, claims that DHL monitors employees conversations and evidence that DHL intercepts union members’ phone calls.


The report’s author, Dr Victor Figueroa Clark of the London School of Economics, said: “The company’s code should make DHL a beacon of good conduct in Latin America. Sadly, the evidence from the workers I interviewed for my report paints an overwhelmingly different picture.


Anti-union practices

“The multiple, frequent and institutional anti-union practices described in this report are difficult to interpret as anything but the result of an anti-union policy originating from the heart of the company in Germany.”


In 2013 the OECD accepted a complaint by the ITF and UNI Global Union about Deutsche Post-DHL’s conduct after previous investigations (see http://goo.gl/DZi526). This led to two years of talks that concluded in December and were finally reviewed today, and have failed to improve conditions for DHL workers.


Unite is part of the ITF’s global campaign to raise standards for all DHL workers. For more background see here http://goo.gl/zpshrW.


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