Done with due diligence? Barry Callebaut pressures workers to withdraw non-compliance claims in India in return for access to collective bargaining rights
A day after Barry Callebaut terminated the elected trade union representative of the Barry Callebaut Employees Union (BCEU) in Baramati, India, on November 6, 2023, national management offered to sign a collective agreement with the union. But on one condition. BCEU must state that all of the rights violations and abuses by the management that occurred over the past 12 months are untrue. In other words, for union members to exercise their collective bargaining rights, the union must lie. The assumption is that the withdrawal of all the (well-documented) allegations will allow the company to claim it was always in compliance.
After months of pressure and harassment and the victimization of the union’s elected General Secretary – ultimately ending in his unfair termination – union membership fell from 28 to just 18. But the global company still wants the remaining 18 workers to say it was all untrue. In return they will be allowed to have a collective agreement that will bring economic benefits to their families. In a decent world this would be seen for what it is – the bullying of workers in an impoverished rural community by a corporate giant.
The refusal of Barry Callebaut to remedy the rights issues at its Baramati factory and respect the fundamental right of all workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining raises serious questions about how it operates as a global company. From the outset of the dispute, global management first denied any non-compliance without investigating. Only after questions were raised by representatives of Barry Callebaut employees in Europe did corporate management finally investigate beyond making a few phone calls. Yet in the following months it became clear that every reply and every action by the company was determined by local management in Baramati. The very same people involved in the rights violations.
This raises serious questions about how Barry Callebaut views compliance and how it addresses allegations of rights violations. Despite all of its global policies and commitments, the approach is first to deny and defend, then to ask those directly involved whether they did it. This then generates sufficient evidence to justify the initial denial.
If this is the company’s approach, then human rights due diligence simply will not work. This then raises questions about all other forms of human rights violations (including modern slavery and child labor) that the company claims are untrue or are now resolved.
Even more remarkable is that major global food companies that are supplied by Barry Callebaut were asked by unions to investigate and carry out their own human rights due diligence. So they asked Barry Callebaut. That was the extent of it. More rigorous due diligence involved longer conversations with Barry Callebaut. The same replies came back. No one spoke to the union. No one spoke to the workers involved.
The story that local management tells – which is retold by Barry Callebaut – is that the union General Secretary was asleep on the job and the contract worker he was supposed to be supervising was asleep inside a machine. They add: imagine the tragedy if someone had turned the machine on! This phrase is repeated by national and regional corporate management, global management, and the companies supplied by Barry Callebaut – all who claimed to have conducted their own due diligence.
Early in the dispute it was agreed that the union General Secretary, Rajesh, had fallen asleep while on duty. He was sitting on the floor because there is no seating in the production area, and fell asleep for about15 minutes. As anyone in the Baramati factory knows, this happens all the time. No doubt it needs to be rectified with better work arrangements and seating.
But in this case the supervisor secretly took photos of Rajesh then circulated them. When Rajesh later asked the supervisor to delete photos, local management accused him of “tampering with evidence”. The same phrase is repeated at all levels of Barry Callebaut and the company’s buyers. But evidence of what? Given the mismanagement of schedules and working time it is common at the factory that workers sleep for short periods of time. What about the lack of seating? If anyone saw a photo of a worker in Europe sitting on the floor, they would ask, “Why is he on the floor?” But no one at any level in all their due diligence asked why or investigated this. (Is the real answer, “because it’s India?”)
The horror story we are told is that a contract worker sleeping inside a machine that he was tasked to clean. Rajesh was supposedly supervising this worker. It is incredibly dangerous and unacceptable. Of that there is no doubt. But no one investigated why or how this happened.
Why was the overworked, underpaid contract worker asleep inside a machine?
Local management’s horror scenario (“what if the machine was turned on?”) is repeated everywhere. But no one asked:
How would it be possible to turn the machine on?
Aren’t machines at Barry Callebaut’s India operations locked when they are being cleaned?
There were also no questions about the failure of management to ensure safety standards and to supervise third party contract workers. In fact there were no questions at all about safety standards or measures to ensure a safe workplace (which are fundamental rights included in human rights due diligence).
The reason no one asked these questions is because terminating an employee for falling asleep for 15 minutes would be seen as excessive. It could lead to questions about why Rajesh was treated more harshly (because he is the General Secretary of a union that local management cannot control?) Therefore, tampering with evidence (asking a supervisor to delete photos taken on his private phone) and risking the life a contract worker (“what if the machine was turned on?”) justifies termination.
No one asked any questions beyond the answers already given by local management. That in itself is a failure of human rights diligence and sends a warning signal regarding both compliance and corporate governance.
The fact that global companies that buy chocolate ingredients from Barry Callebaut also did not ask these questions suggests that due diligence has simply not been done.
The IUF-affiliated National Union of Food Delivery Riders (RIDERS-SENTRO) held a press conference on November 3, to denounce the systematic violation of rights and persecution of delivery riders by Grab and Foodpanda in the Philippines.
In recent weeks food delivery riders mobilized to protest against an unfair fare matrix suddenly imposed by Grab. In response to the protests, Grab terminated and suspended riders for speaking out. At the same time, Foodpanda continued its abusive, unsafe practices, placing food delivery above the safety and wellbeing of riders.
Grab is poised to take over Foodpanda operations in the Philippines. Delivery Hero, the Germany-based parent company of Foodpanda, is ignoring these rights abuses as it prepares to sell delivery operations in several Asian countries including the Philippines.
National Union of Food Delivery Riders (RIDERS-SENTRO) Press Release [PDF]
RIDERS PRESS CONFERENCE TO LAUNCH NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON NOVEMBER 3, 2023
QUEZON CITY — After the massive mobilizations of Grab riders in Metro Manila in the previous month, it is unfortunate that Grab continues to ignore the legitimate grievances of its partners. With many riders slapped with arbitrary suspensions, RIDERS-SENTRO finds no choice but to continue our campaign to advance the full respect and recognition of riders’ rights across all platforms. To this end, RIDERS-SENTRO held a press conference to publicly launch a national campaign called Respect Riders’ Rights. Among the demands that we riders will forward include:
- Fair rates
- Comprehensive insurance
- Magna Carta for Delivery Riders
- Reinstatement of suspended delivery riders
- Union representation of delivery riders
The speakers at the press conference were the suspended riders from both Grab and Foodpanda. They spoke about riders’ issues such as the recent imposition of the unfair fare matrix, which the riders opposed. However, Grab’s response was to terminate and suspend the riders who protested against it. Many such riders were terminated by Grab because they attended assemblies intended to raise the concerns of all riders with regards to various issues and, most importantly, the issue of the fare restructure that will reduce their income.
The issue of insurance was also brought up at the press conference as riders frequently face the threat of accidents on the road. RIDERS – Pampanga member Jeremiah Javier shared that just recently in Pampanga, one of their colleagues met with an accident while on duty. The first question of their dispatcher was “was the food delivered?” Foodpanda also suspended the rider after a few days. Platform companies only give medical reimbursements, if any. More often than not, it is the riders themselves that come together to help each other in accidents or in death.
Mary Rose Evardone, a Grab rider that has been red-tagged and suspended twice, called for due process. Despite important service both to the company and the general public, as well as the regular nature of delivery riders’ work, they continue to be treated as “delivery-partners, free-lancers, self-employed and independent contractors”. This is used to justify their lower incomes and the lack of sufficient social protection, despite the fact that their work can reach 12-15 hours a day, and that platform company management has the power to suspend and off-board riders, even without due process.
RIDERS-SENTRO sees that the root problem of these issues is the platform companies’ lack of respect towards delivery riders. Instead of taking proper action, platform companies respond with termination and suspension of riders who call for respect for their rights. With this, RIDERS-SENTRO has launched a petition that calls on legislators to pass the Freelance Protection Bill and for customers to support their delivery riders. The petition can be accessed through https://chng.it/vhLnRBxbyc.
The National Union of Food Delivery Riders, is the first and only national union of delivery riders in the country. It has members from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that forward riders’ interests for decent work and just livelihoods. Its riders are from different apps such as Grab, Foodpanda, and Maxim.
Defending food sovereignty and fighting for the rights of farm workers and small and marginal farmers – in honour of Brother Abdul Mazid
Across the Asia-Pacific region, IUF members expressed their great sadness at the passing away of Brother Abdul Mazid on October 16, 2023. Brother Mazid was a founding member and President of the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF), a national federation of trade unions in state-owned farms in Bangladesh. It is one of the longest standing IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region.
Brother Mazid formed BAFLF in 1978, with the aim to protect and promote the rights and interest of small and marginal farmers, farm workers and waged agricultural workers. He was the Finance Secretary of BAFLF from 1978 to 2011, then was elected as General Secretary. After serving as General Secretary for 11 years until 2022, Brother Mazid was elected as the President of BAFLF. He held this post until he passed away on October 16, 2023.
Brother Mazid strongly advocated for recognition of trade unions and to ensure that everyone engaged in agriculture could exercise their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. He also led the fight to defend food sovereignty in the face of growing corporate control. In particular, Brother Mazid prioritized small and marginal farmers’ control of seeds as essential to protecting their livelihoods and the food security of local communities.
Under the leadership of Brother Mazid, BAFLF’s fight against the corporate control of agriculture included opposition to the commercial release of genetically engineered (GMO) seeds. BAFLF members in state farms and research centres played a vital role in this effort to stop the biological pollution of Bangladesh by GMO crops, and to defend food sovereignty in face of aggressive corporate control over food and agriculture.
BAFLF was of the first IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region to raise awareness of climate change, mobilizing farmers, agricultural workers and their communities in the fight for climate justice. This became an integral part of the policies and programs of the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Organization. Today BAFLF continues to advance workers’ rights in the face of the climate crisis. This includes the struggle for fair wages and incomes, secure jobs, safety and health and access to social protection.
IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region extend their condolences and solidarity to BAFLF members, and all IUF members in Bangladesh.
스타벅스는 미국 스타벅스에서 노동 조합을 결성하고 있는 청년 노동자들에 대해 조직적이고 악의적인 공격을 가하고 있다. 노동자들은 노조의 조직 및 가입과 같은 보편적인 인간의 권리를 행사하려했다는 단순한 이유만으로 위협, 부당 해고의 피해에 직면하고 있다.
2018년 5월, 네슬레는 ‘Starbucks Coffee At Home’, 캔커피, 병커피가 포함된 스타벅스 브랜드의 커피 제조 및 판매권 인수에 71억5천만불을 지불했다.
네슬레 노조원들은 네슬레가 스타벅스와 같은 악랄하며 반 노동적인 기업과 사업을 하는 것을 인정하지 않고 있다. 네슬레 노동자들은 네슬레 공장에서 생산되는 스타벅스 커피 제품이 반노조 및 ‘이것은 우리의 레서피가 아니다’라는 스타벅스의 기업 문화를 대변하게 될 것이라고 주장하고 있다. 네슬레 노동자들은 스타벅스가 노동자와 노조의 권리를 존중해야 한다고 주장하고 있다.
스타벅스는 미국 스타벅스에서 노동 조합을 결성하고 있는 청년 노동자들에 대해 조직적이고 악의적인 공격을 가하고 있다. 노동자들은 노조의 조직 및 가입과 같은 보편적인 인간의 권리를 행사하려했다는 단순한 이유만으로 위협, 부당 해고의 피해에 직면하고 있다. 이에 대항해서, 아시아 태평양 지역의 노동자들은 스타벅스가 노동자의 권리를 존중할 것을 요구하는 목소리를 조직하고 있다.