Monday, March 16, 2015

Freight Forwarding and Logistics Giant Under Attack Yet Again for Shabby Employment Practices

Once More German Group is Accused of Serous Malpractice
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – INDIA – WORLDWIDE – It seems once again the continuing disputes between international labour organisations and German headquartered logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL have boiled up after the return from India of an International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) official charged with discovering the facts behind recent allegations against the freight forwarding and supply chain group over its employment practices outside the home country.

The ITF and UNI Global Union have worked together for some while, publicising alleged abuse on a dedicated blog site, recently critical of the lack of gender equality at the firm, and now this focus on the subcontinent is linked to a report released today by John Logan, professor and director of labour and employment studies at San Francisco State University and visiting research fellow at the Institute for Research on Labour and Employment, University of California-Berkeley, plus criticism in a recent German TV programme which accused DP DHL of various employment abuses.

Professor Logan was commissioned by the ITF to make an independent investigation into multiple allegations of widespread mistreatment of staff at in DHL India. These included serious victimisation; punitive transfers of staff, moving them hundreds of miles away from their families and homes at almost no notice; and forced re-grading of personnel to try and prevent them joining a trade union. The title of his report ‘Intimidation, misclassification and obstruction: DHL’s strategy to undermine labour rights in India’ leaves little doubt of what it contains.

Ingo Marowsky, the ITF’s global head of supply chain and logistics is returning from Delhi today after gathering information on the situation himself at four major Indian cities after accusations of threats to pro union workers by local and national DHL managers, actively discriminating against union membership by couriers and pursuing a legal strategy that is intended to tie this dispute up in the courts for years. He commented:

“The widespread accusations of persistent victimisation are extremely serious and – in their effects on workers and their families heartrending. They are so grave that we asked Professor Logan to investigate. Sadly, he has found them to be well founded. This substantiates the testimonies I have heard this week in India, including that the company has taken out over 20 injunctions in an attempt to muzzle workers and their union. I hope that his report and German television’s recent exposé will stir DP-DHL into action to address what is clearly going seriously, and publicly, wrong with its management in India.

“DP-DHL claimed to have conducted a full review of what was happening in India last year, but only conducted random and anonymous investigation and repeatedly refused to confirm they had actually interviewed any of the workers who’d been victimised, or union representatives. That startling omission underlined the need for an outside investigation.”

The ITF representative was backed up by Stephen DeMatteo, head of post & logistics at UNI Global Union, who observed:

“We are gravely concerned by the findings of Professor Logan's report as well as those confirmed in the past week by our colleagues at the ITF. UNI is committed to work with ITF to resolve the issues in DHL's Indian operations. UNI calls upon DHL to take action now to ensure workers' rights are respected in India and everywhere DP-DHL does business."