IndustriALL Global Union today picketed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, in protest against Nissan’s sponsorship of the Rio 2016 Games.
Nissan has broken the guidelines for sponsors of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games through aggressive anti-union discrimination at its 6,000 worker plant in Canton, Mississippi, USA, where workers are trying to organize with IndustriALL affiliate the United Auto Workers.
IndustriALL wants the IOC to intervene and urge the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee to ask Nissan for a corrective action plan at the Canton plant. It is also calling on the IOC to remove Nissan as a sponsor if they refuse to adhere to the social responsibility expectations of the Rio Games.
Questioned over anti-union discrimination in the French parliament last week, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn claimed workers are free to join a union wherever it operates in the world.
IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina, disputed Ghosn’s response in a speech outside the IOC offices in Lausanne, saying:
Well, Mr Ghosn, I have been to Canton Mississippi and the workers told me a very different story. They spoke about intimidation, threats of dismissals and even of plant closure if they choose a union. This is not freedom of association and this is against the Olympic rules. That is why Nissan is not fit to be an Olympic sponsor. We demand that Nissan changes its behaviour now – otherwise it’s time to extinguish the Olympic flame for Nissan.
Jyrki Raina and the IndustriALL delegation were met by Ben Seeley, Head of Marketing Communications at the IOC who promised to pass IndustriALL’s letter voicing its concerns to Thomas Bach, President of the IOC.
The solidarity action followed a demonstration of around 200 trade unionists in Brazil on 18 February. Trade union leaders hand delivered a protest letter against Nissan’s conduct in Canton to the organizers of the Rio 2016 Olympics, set to begin in August.