Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Nissan – Not fit to be an Olympic sponsor

18 February, 2016Nissan is under fire from trade unions that say the car company is breaking Olympic guidelines for sponsors of the Rio 2016 Games. 

Representatives from trade unions in Brazil will hand deliver a complaint letter to Carlos Nuzman, President of the Organizing Committee for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Ambassador Agemar Sanctos, Director of Institutional Relations today at 12:00pm BRST.  

The Japanese-owned car giant, which operates in an alliance with French-based Renault, is supplying around 6,500 vehicles to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil taking place in August, and is the only motor sponsor.

IndustriALL Global Union’s Brazil affiliates say Nissan’s aggressive anti-union suppression at its plant in Canton, Mississippi is in direct contradiction to the Sustainable Supply Chain Guide for sponsors and suppliers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which lists freedom of association among its standards.

The 18 February action in Rio de Janeiro will see Brazilian trade unions UGT, Força Sindical, CUT, the National Union of Athletes, as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW) and IndustriALL, unite in support of workers at Canton who have been intimidated and reprimanded by Nissan in retaliation for union activities. Nissan workers from Mississippi will also attend the event. 

Despite Nissan allowing union representation at other plants around the world, including Brazil, the Nissan North America employee handbook expressly advises workers to decline union membership.

Nissan Canton employee, Morris Mock, noted that:

“We are simply asking to be treated with the same respect shown to our unionized colleagues at Nissan and Renault workplaces around the world. I am proud to stand alongside my Brazilian colleagues in asking the Olympic Committee to put its values into action.”

In December 2015, following a six month investigation, the National Labor Relations Board in the US filed a formal complaint against Nissan charging the company with breaking the law for threatening to terminate workers for union activities, for threatening workers with plant closure for choosing a union, and for unlawfully imposing a uniform policy after hundreds of Canton workers began wearing pro-union t-shirts.

“By attacking the union, creating a climate of fear in Canton and refusing dialogue, Nissan has treated its US workforce as second-class citizens. I hope that Nissan will adhere to the principles of the Rio Olympic Games and change its behavior in Mississippi,” said Mock.

Workers want a union to give a voice to their concerns over health and safety at Canton and to improve the rights of temporary workers, who make up 40 per cent of the production line workforce. Formal work and safe working conditions are also stipulated in the supply chain guidelines for Rio sponsors.

IndustriALL’s General Secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:

The organizers of the Rio Olympics have rightly put social responsibility at the core of the Games but Nissan is falling far short of the standards expected from sponsors. Olympic guidelines demand respect for labour rights and we call on Nissan to do the same. We urge the organizers of the Rio Games to ask that Nissan put a corrective action plan in place at Canton so Nissan can be a fit and worthy sponsor of the Olympic Games.