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UNILEVER THROWS WORKERS ON THE BREADLINE

posted 22 Aug 2019, 19:01 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Aug 2019, 03:26 ]
The impending retrenchment of more than 280 workers at Champs Fleurs based Unilever, members of the OWTU bargaining unit is not a tragedy, as one media house put it. It is a continuation by the owners of capital of the drive to make workers pay for the crisis of capitalism that has intensified since the crash of 2008.

For capital, international and local, to maintain their profit levels they are bent on transferring income from the pockets of working people into their pockets. Labour’s share in the value it produces is being drastically reduced in favour of Capital’s share. They argue that this is just business, you know, economics. One noted historian said that economics is the study of how some people push others around.

Readers of this website will recall that as far back as May Unilever had made it clear that the local operations of this giant transnational company were being “restructured”. (See this). This, as Neil McEachnie, president of the local branch of the OWTU says, is a code word for retrenchment. Every member of the OWTU bargaining unit is to be retrenched.

The company has said that it is engaging in “partial restructuring”. It is shutting down its manufacturing and most of its warehousing capacity. This restructuring is going to take place in two phases. The first phase involves the shutting down of manufacturing of liquid and powder detergents in addition to the ancillary services that support it. These services include: CSR in sales, customs, sections of stores and engineering. Warehousing is also to be eliminated. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of October.

By June next year, the spreads plant which produces fats will be shut down. All of Lever's's food brands had been sold two years ago to a company called Upfield and Unilever Caribbean engaged in a co-packing arrangement with Upfield. On August 1st (Emancipation Day), the Sales and Distribution contract came to an end and was taken over by Vemco.

What is happening is a sign of the future that the capitalists are planning for T&T. They have decided that we must not engage in manufacturing in light and heavy industry (note Petrotrin). Our already acquired skill levels must be eroded and that we must engage in low level service provision – fast food, warehousing, distribution of imported product.

Unilever’s restructuring will not only affect their workers, but will also impact on transport and engineering contractor workers, canteen, suppliers of safety equipment, spares, labels and packaging material. It will also put more strain on the foreign exchange situation and drive down the quality of life.

Unilever workers have to deal with a number of issues affecting their terms and conditions of work. Some of these include the impact on their pensions and health coverage.

It is now open season on workers. Retrenchment is the order of the day Arcelor Mittal, UTT, Petrotrin, TCL, TSTT, Agostini and many others and now the Prime Minister is threatening public servants.

We must stop fooling ourselves that our party card will save us. Red, yellow and non-aligned workers in Petrotrin went home. In the final analysis, you may be a member of a political party, but that party serves the interest of the big shot employers and businessmen whose only loyalty is to the almighty dollar.

If you and Mr. Mouttet or Mr. Agostini are in the same political party, that will have no bearing when they decide to chop off your neck. The politicians may have you in grip, but the politicians are owned by the one percent.
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