Pakistan: Release Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, CBA Kabir Wala factory union President

Stop state repression and harassment of union leaders and members

  • Pakistan: Release Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, CBA Kabir Wala factory union President
  • Stop state repression and harassment of union leaders and members
  • Withdraw all 28 false, baseless and fabricated criminal cases including “terrorism” charges against union leaders and members
  • Stop gross violations of labour rights, laws and mutually-signed agreements by Nestle management in Pakistan

The violations of labour laws, labour rights, union busting and mutually signed agreements on the part of the Nestle management Kabir Wala Pakistan is going on unabetted. The Nestle management is using the local police to repress the protesting workers. The local police is acting as a private militia of the Nestle management and doing whatever possible to silence the workers. The local police so far registered 28 false, fabricated and baseless cases against the union leaders and active members to please the Nestle management. The police also registered criminal cases against workers under “anti-terrorism” laws.

The President of the union, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti, is already behind bars for more than one month. He was sacked by the factory management from his job and he has been unemployed for more than 4 months. He has been President of the union since 2007 and was consistently involved in struggle to secure and protect the rights of the workers. His only crime is that he refused to become a “pocket” union leader and bow down in front of the management and continued his struggle. The management has been trying to smash the union for more than 10 years and is using every dirty tactic including the local police to bust the union. The management uses one excuse after the other to deny the workers and the union the right of collective bargaining.

The management of the Kabir Wala factory in Khanewal is using every means possible to smash the trade union in the factory and to continue the flouting of existing labour laws in the country. The Nestle employees union there has been working as a CBA union since 1996. The factory management has so far registered 24 criminal cases against the union leaders and members. The management has forcibly locked out the 800 low paid contract workers into the factory since September 2015. These low paid, poor workers and their families are facing hunger and starvation because of forced sackings.

The Nestle management signed an agreement with the union in 2012 in which it was agreed that the management would regularise the services of 588 contract workers and that they would get all benefits provided for under the labour laws. Now, the management is violating the agreement and trying to replace the contract labour in violation of this agreement.

The factory management even used local goons and criminal groups to attack the workers inside the factory on 11 September, when 5 workers got serious injuries. The management of the Nestle factory used this incident as an excuse to target the union leadership and members and registered many fabricated and false cases against the protesting workers.

Workers fail to understand why a multinational like Nestle is using such dirty tactics against the union and workers. Nestle Global claims that it respects human rights and human values but why then is Nestle Pakistan involved in such gross violations of basic democratic and labour rights and using the local police to repress and silence the union and the workers. The Nestle Pakistan management is involved in serious violations of labour and democratic rights. It is not a crime to form a union and to be involved in lawful and peaceful union activities in accordance with Pakistani laws and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and practices.

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