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Global unions mobilizing to stop Crown Holdings from exporting union busting

7 March, 2014At a February 25th meeting held in Geneva and organized by IndustriALL, unions representing employees of Crown Holdings from seven countries shared experiences about labour relations at Crown Holdings.

More importantly, they developed a plan of action to defend workers in Canada and Turkey and to prevent the spread of the company’s anti-union behavior, often practiced by North American employers, to other areas where Crown operates.

Using the “Take-Backs No More” campaign (www.takebacksnomore.ca) of the United Steelworkers union in Canada as a start, a new global network of unions at Crown is emerging along with a global campaign.  The campaign is being bolstered by participation from two other global union federations, UNI Global Union and IUF whose affiliates represent other Crown workers and as well as those of key customers.

“Our effort to not only link together various unions at Crown but also incorporate supply chain unions is meant to provide a more equal balance of power in dealing with the enormous power of this multinational corporation,” said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL. “The arrogance displayed by Crown Holdings in refusing to even acknowledge offers by global unions to meet demonstrates that we need real actions and not just words.”

Ron Oswald, IUF General Secretary says, “The IUF has successfully fought for formal international recognition from a number of major food and beverage companies all of whom would claim to respect human rights standards for their workers. Those companies’ responsibility for ensuring similar standards for human rights through their supply chains is equally clear and we therefore cannot allow a major supplier of packaging to those same food and beverage companies to flout human rights standards the way Crown does. We stand shoulder to shoulder with IndustriALL members fighting for their rights at Crown".

Christy Hoffman, Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union says, "We can win these fights with global corporations when we stand together, share strategies and coordinate across the entire supply chain. Crown will not be able to continue its anti-union treatment of employees in Canada and Turkey once the facts are known to workers across the world. UNI has worked in successful partnership with IndustriALL in a number of campaigns and will fully support its efforts to vindicate the human rights of the brothers and sisters at Crown Holdings".

Crown is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of food, beverage and aerosol cans.

Included among Crown’s belligerent acts and thoroughly discussed at the meeting are:

a decade of cuts forced on union workers in North America
an on-going six-month strike in Canada prompted by Crown’s demands for a permanent lower wage scale for new workers that would reduce pay by 42%

using legal barriers to delay full recognition of a union in Turkey
a lack of transparency and consultation over possible closure of plants in Europe in violation of the EU legislation.

On 5 March 2014 the 500,000-member Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC) has endorsed a boycott of Carnival Cruises to protest the role of Carnival's chief executive, Arnold Donald, who as a director of the U.S. based Crown Holding is accountable for the six-month labour dispute in Toronto.

Plans are already underway to mobilize for Crown’ shareholders meeting in Philadelphia. Other actions are also planned.