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Nissan workers use dialogue and demonstration to advance their cause

22 February, 2016Three trade union centres in Brazil are using a combination of dialogue and demonstration to advance the cause of Nissan workers. They organized a demonstration and a meeting with the Organizing Committee of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. They demanded that Nissan should be made to observe the terms of its official sponsorship deal and not violate human rights in the company’s supply chain. 

Hundreds of members of unions affiliated to CUT, Força Sindical, UGT, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and IndustriALL Global Union held a demonstration at the 2016 Organizing Committee’s meeting in Barra da Tijuca, Río de Janeiro on 18 February. Waving placards and banners, they denounced Nissan’s anti-trade union practices in the USA and called on the Japanese car company to act in a socially responsible way.

"Together, we can pressure this multinational company to respect workers in Mississippi, USA. If Nissan does not cease its anti-trade union practices, we will denounce it at the Olympic Games” said Miguel Torres, president of CNTM-Força Sindical, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.

Edson Rocha, Secretary of Administration and Finance for CNM/CUT, also affiliated to IndustriALL, said his union had denounced Nissan’s actions in the USA before. “We will continue to act in solidarity with our UAW colleagues until Nissan respects workers' right to organize in a trade union”, he said.

During the demonstration, about 20 union representatives met Ambassador Agemar Sanctos, Director of Institutional Relations for the Organizing Committee. They hand delivered a letter stating that the intimidation suffered by Nissan workers is in contradiction with the principles set out in the Sustainable Supply Chain Guide for sponsors of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (http://www.industriall-union.org/nissan-not-fit-to-be-an-olympic-sponsor).

There was a positive response to this letter and he agreed to arrange another meeting at a date to be confirmed next week. Sanctos also agreed to speak to Nissan management and seek a response to the complaints presented by the unions.

"The meeting was very productive, but we are ready to demonstrate again in order to make ourselves heard. And we will do so for as long as it takes", said Ricardo Patah, president of the UGT, which represents more than 80 per cent of Nissan dealers in Brazil.

The unions are also writing to the labour minister, Miguel Rossetto. The unions hope that the committee will present a corrective action plan for immediate implementation by the company.

Marino Vani, IndustriALL Assistant Regional Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean was in the delegation that delivered the letter and he also attended the demonstration. He said:

“We are not protesting against either the Olympic Games or the committee or even Nissan. We believe that workers have basic rights, for example, to organize and negotiate. We want respect from the biggest Olympic Games sponsor.

Solidarity with our colleagues at Nissan in the USA is aimed at getting the company to negotiate with the UAW and allow its workers to organize freely. As a global union, it is IndustriALL’s mission and duty to defend workers and ensure that the Olympic Games is a fraternal, fair and clean competition. We cannot let the Olympic torch be carried by a car produced by a company that maintains anti-trade union practices in its supply chain. 

We hope that before the Olympic Games starts, a dialogue can be opened to find a way forward and reconcile Nissan and its workers in the USA. We hope that the company will allow the union to organize, respect workers' rights and set an example of the spirt of peace and respect symbolized by the Olympic flame.”