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Scab-made medical gloves sicken Ansell workers in Sri Lanka

19 November, 2013Australian-based manufacturer of medical gloves and condoms, Ansell continues to attack its workers. Suspending striking trade union members in Sri Lanka and replacing them with contracted scabs puts a bad stain on Ansell’s products that are exported throughout the world.

Join the IndustriALL-LabourStart Campaign here.

IndustriALL Global Union is mobilising solidarity behind its Sri Lankan affiliate the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU). The FTZGSEU has organised and defended the workers at the Ansell Lanka Ltd factory in the Biyagama Export Promotion Zone for many years. Ansell has an ugly history of union busting at the factory since 1994, when management refused to recognise FTZGSEU as the legitimate bargaining partner that led to demonstrations in which one worker was shot dead by police.

Large purchasers of Ansell products include national, regional and local governments, military, health care institutions (hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, home-care companies), correctional institutions, security agencies and companies, safety equipment supply houses, laboratory supply houses, and retailers. In communications to these institutions IndustriALL Global Union’s message is to check usage of "Dirty Gloves".

The company’s refusal to recognise the FTZGSEU continues now and was the primary reason for the 800-worker strike that is on going since 11 October. The strike is the longest ever in a Sri Lankan free trade zone. Management’s retaliation to the strike has been appalling and constitutes a clear strategy of crushing the union completely.

The union president was summarily sacked on 11 November, without any disciplinary inquiry. The only reason given for the sacking was that the branch union president had insinuated to police that management was involved when two men on a motorbike assaulted him.

Since that first sacking, a further 10 summary sackings have been made, including other key branch union office bearers. Contract agency workers, following a long-term strategy to weaken the union by outsourcing the factory’s workforce, replace all suspended and sacked workers. Ansell has shown equal arrogance in face of the Sri Lankan authorities, ignoring recommendations as well as meeting invites.

IndustriALL has exhausted all avenues of remediation with Ansell, after a number of letters sent over a period of over a year, to which the company only flatly denied any accusation of anti-union activity in Sri Lanka and never accepted repeated offers of a meeting.

IndustriALL is teaming with LabourStart to launch a mass online petition condemning this corporate behaviour. LabourStart will call on its large mail lists of trade union activists to write to Ansell CEO Magnus Nicolin and other top management, calling on the company to halt its union busting in Sri Lanka and instead enter into good faith bargaining with FTZGSEU to build positive industrial relations at the plant. Join the thousands of angry activists writing to Ansell now at this link - http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2053

IndustriALL and its affiliates in North America, Australia and Europe are now expanding the solidarity campaign by informing hospitals and other customers of Ansell of the dirt on the surgical gloves they buy. An OECD complaint will be lodged soon also.

FTZGSEU also needs your financial support. Over 80 per cent of the strikers have children. The union has set up a strike fund into which you and your union can transfer financial support. Write to [email protected] for the details.

You can also send a message of solidarity to the striking FTZGSEU workers on the messaging tool opposite this article.

Ansell must change its consistent anti-union policy in operations around the world. At the Kurin site in Malaysia, the Ansell management has refused to negotiate or dialogue in good faith with the union.