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Defend trade unionists at Pepsi

PCS (civil servants trade union) young member, Gracie Bellerby, explains the attacks facing trade unionists at PepsiCo in India.

This week (8th-13th July) Youth Fight for Jobs has a Week of Action for our new (under-employment) initiative 'Are you Sick of your Boss?'. We're targeting Primark, one of Britain's worst employers, but following the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, has shown exactly how much they value workers' lives. PCS (civil servants trade union) young member, Gracie Bellerby, explains the attacks facing trade unionists at PepsiCo in India.

All over the world workers are being attacked by large multi-national companies out to make vast riches from the sweat of their staff. In March and April Indian workers in Punjab and Pune decided enough was enough and formed a trade union to fight for their rights that their employer, Radhakrishna Foodland Private Limited, who have been subcontracted by PepsiCo India to produce their internationally famous products.

Their demands were simple ones, for fair pay and access to their social security payments, as they are legally entitled to. PepsiCo have instead elected to use labour contractors, which are not officially licensed, to deny entitlements Indian workers have a mandatory right to under law.

Rather than going to the bargaining table with this new trade union, which is officially affiliated with the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Radhakrishna Foodland Private Limited has instead sacked 162 of the 170 workers who formed the new trade union. As well as this denial of their basic human right to organise, a local trade union busting gang was hired to physically attack some of these workers. This is a disgusting act and it must be highlighted for what it is –  a huge multi-national corporation penalising and brutalising their staff and former staff for daring to harm that companies chance to make profit from their employee’s suffering.

PepsiCo has insisted that the dispute is not between themselves and the workers but between the third party contractor and the workers. However, INTUC has quite rightly pointed out that where hiring is done on a contractual basis, adherence to these legal, trade union and workers' rights is not only the responsibility of the immediate employer, but also on the principle employer – PepsiCo.

So what can we, part of the international labour movement, do for these workers? After all many if not most of the people who are reading this article will not be living in India. Well the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) are running a letter writing campaign targeting PepsiCo Chief executive officer, Indra Nooyi which you can partake in by filling out the form on the following web-link:

You can also join their Facebook Community on this issue here to show your solidarity:

Please consider doing these simple actions which will take less than five minutes of your time and show PepsiCo that we are behind these workers and will not stand for anyone losing their right to unionise.

Grace Bellerby (PCS member) on behalf of Youth Fight for Jobs

Follow the link ../?p=727 for a full list of events in the 'Are you Sick of your Boss?' Week of Action