In support of IndustriALL’s Pakistani affiliate, PCEM, whose president Imran Ali was sacked by Syngenta for organizing, the global union, its Swiss affiliate Unia and civil society allies today demonstrated at the agrochemicals multinational’s AGM in Basel.
IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan addressed the Syngenta Chairman and CEO in front of their shareholders, saying:
Your shareholders should share the shame of the people of Basel for the outright union busting Syngenta has carried out in Pakistan. Imran Ali, standing alongside me here now, was the elected representative of your Pakistani workers. Instead of respecting your bargaining partner, you sacked him and fought his union in the courts. My question to you is simple, why will you not reinstate Imran Ali and stop your ideological union busting today.
The annual shareholders meeting followed on from a major conference in Syngenta’s home city of Basel, Switzerland that shone a light on the company’s abuses of human rights, environmental rights, workers’ rights, and community damage around the world. The event, organized by solidarity organization MultiWatch, heard from PCEM president Imran Ali and general secretary Muhammad Suhail.
The Syngenta case studies in Paraguay, Hawaii, and Pakistan showed a company repeatedly taking illogical business decisions in order to never set a precedent of being held to account.
The blatant union busting case in Pakistan was started in December 2010 in reaction to the Pakistan Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers, PCEM’s, effort to regularize the temporary workforce, in line with Pakistani labour law.
The local labour court ruled in favour of the union’s petition to 50 employees’ right to permanent employment on 18 December 2010. Four days later the plant management in Karachi demanded that union leader Imran Ali sign a blank piece of paper. He refused and learned of his dismissal from the plant reported in the local Daily Jang newspaper the following day.
Both cases, the illegal sacking of Imran Ali, and the permanent employment of the 50 temporary workers were continuously appealed in Pakistan’s courts by Syngenta’s lawyers for three years. While the company was finally forced to award permanent employment contracts in November 2013, the workers have not been properly paid, and more importantly the company continues to block their right to organize and bargain collectively, or to reinstate Imran Ali. In addition, workers again sued Syngenta as full amount of their settlements were not paid by the company.
PCEM president Imran Ali says:
I am here in Switzerland to demand that Syngenta reinstate me in my job. As the union of Syngenta workers in Pakistan we want to improve the company so that we can be proud of our employer. I look forward to the company reacting positively from my visit here.