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Friday, November 23, 2012

Unions accuse DHL of labour violations worldwide

GENEVA: Two international unions on Wednesday accused German postal giant Deutsche Post's DHL division of blocking unionisation efforts around the world, and moved to force Berlin to take action.
International postal workers union UNI Global Union and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said they had filed a formal complaint directly with the German government, a major shareholder with Deutsche Post.
In it, they argued that the world's largest logistics company was violating global guidelines for multinational corporations.
"We allege in our case that across the world ... DHL wants to remain non-union and is taking steps to ensure that happens," UNI deputy chief Christy Hoffman told AFP.
They also argue that the company is not doing the required due diligence to ensure its affiliates around the world are respecting workers' rights to join unions.
"It's clear that there is no message coming from DHL telling managers they have to get serious about labour rights, and that's what we want to see," she said.
Hoffman maintained that both UNI and ITF affiliates in countries -- from Guatamala, to Vietnam to Turkey, to South Africa, to the United States and even Norway -- had run into "hostilities" from DHL when employees tried to unionise.
In Turkey, for instance, more than 20 workers were recently fired in what the unions claimed was retaliation for trying to unionize, said Hoffman.
Other employees there and elsewhere had been threatened and harassed when they tried to organise, she added.
As a result, far more DHL employees backed off from making the effort to unionize "because they've been told it's just not allowed," Hoffman said.
Since Germany is a signatory to the international guidelines set up by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the government had an obligation to ensure DHL follows the OECD guidelines, she said.
While they were not seeking punitive action against DHL, they wanted Berlin to pressure the company to adhere to OECD rules -- and for DHL to pass that message on to its managers around the world.
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