When the labour authorities supported Shell Pakistan’s workers in their claim for a vote on whether they want a union, local management responded with heavy-handed security forces, outsourcing and punitive shift changes.
IndustriALL Global Union reported in August about the successful struggle of its Pakistani affiliate PCEM, (Pakistan Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers’ Union) at Shell. The union supported 300 Shell workers’ legal claim to pass from precarious to permanent contracts.
The workers from Shell Pakistan’s Lubricant oil blending plant in Keamari, Karachi first attempted to register their Insaf Shell Pakistan Workers Union in 2013. Shell appealed against the registration on grounds that the 300 contract workers were not officially Shell employees.
On 16 July 2015 Pakistan’s trade union registrar dismissed the management's appeal.
However, instead of recognizing the new union and bargaining a new collective agreement, Shell Pakistan's management filed another appeal before the national trade union registrar in Islamabad to stop a workplace union vote proceeding. This second appeal was also dismissed, on 30 October.
PCEM President Imran Ali, who is also chair of the IndustriALL national council in Pakistan, reports:
"Instead of allowing workers to vote on whether they want a union, Shell Pakistan deployed paramilitary rangers at the plant on 17 November. The company then appointed 100 new workers through contractors and will punish its workers by outsourcing the packaging work of lubricant oil.”
IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan states:
How does this massive multinational company dare to treat its workers in Pakistan with such disdain. The Shell employees in Karachi simply want their legal rights to a proper contract and to a voice in their workplace through a union. I don’t think that warrants the management reaction of mobilizing security forces. IndustriALL stands alongside its affiliate the PCEM.