Workers at BASF India’s Mangalore plant have been holding a peaceful protest since 22 May calling on the company to stop anti-union discrimination and start complying with its own code of conduct.
BASF, one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, has adopted a code of conduct binding all employees of the BASF group worldwide. It incorporates globally applicable standards of conduct including human rights, and labour and social standards, which govern BASF’s dealings with employees and other stakeholders.
However, BASF’s Mangalore plant employees are discriminated against in violation of standards espoused in the code of conduct. Non-union employees who perform similar tasks to union employees, are promoted to posts with higher salaries, better employment benefits and fewer working hours. Such actions violate the principle of equal pay for equal work and encourage workers to disassociate themselves from union membership.
Over a period of time, management’s anti-union strategies have led to a reduction of employees under the worker category from 138 to 78. If a worker demands their rights, they are issued with false warning letters.
Following various accidents at the plant, the local union, which is affiliated to IndustriALL through the BASF India Worker's Federation, is calling for transparency and consultation on the details of the accidents and remedial measures taken by the management. Requests for information have been refused by management.
Union members are also concerned about the recruitment of large numbers of causal and daily hire migrant workers in the production department, where hazardous chemicals are used. The union has called on the company to stop deployment of short-term precarious workers in dangerous work and demanded the company recruit more permanent workers. Allowing precarious workers who are not adequately trained and have less experience to handle hazardous chemicals, lead to accidents and precarious workers often become victims.
Raghuram P C, Vice President of the Mangalore plant BASF workers’ union said, “We are holding a peaceful protest without affecting production at the plant. We demand the BASF management stops discrimination against unionized employees and comply with the BASF Global Code of Conduct. The management must be transparent and hold consultations with the union in good faith.”
BASF workers in other plants located in Thane (Mumbai) and Ankleshwar (Gujarat) also raised similar issues and called on the BASF management to comply with the code of conduct.