Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Freight Forwarding Firms Scotch Job Cuts No Ice with Unions

Century Old Bottles Delivered by DHL but Unrest at Employment Policies Continues
Shipping News Feature

SCOTLAND – NEW ZEALAND – TURKEY - WORLDWIDE - DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist within Deutsche Post DHL, has returned three bottles of rare 1896 Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, almost 120 years old, by air and road from Scotland to New Zealand. The whisky was left behind in Antarctica by British explorer Ernest Shackleton after a failed expedition in 1909 and excavated by conservators working for the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) in 2010. Meanwhile however union dissatisfaction with the company’s employment policies outside of its native Germany persists.

Explorer Ernest Shackleton had taken several cases of the whisky on his expedition to Antarctica in 1907, then left them behind when his expedition failed to reach the South Pole. After being rediscovered one crate of whisky was flown to New Zealand and carefully thawed at Canterbury Museum. Three bottles of the historic whisky were then flown to Scotland where the distillery Whyte & Mackay, which now owns the Mackinlay brand, analysed it scientifically. Whyte & Mackay has since recreated the century-old whisky. Talking of the latest high profile shipment Alan Davis, Regional Director, Air Freight Scotland, DHL Global Forwarding said:

"We spent weeks planning this operation, investigating various different travel options and routes to get it from Scotland to New Zealand. Having been buried in the Antarctic ice for more than 100 years, the whisky is extremely precious and delicate, which gave us the opportunity to show our expertise in shipping valuable and delicate cargo.”

The whisky had to be specially packed for the entire journey. It then travelled in a secure container via Dubai on to Christchurch, New Zealand, where DHL transported the whisky back to a facility in Christchurch before its return to Antarctica. Hazel Clark, Customer Operations International Team Leader, Whyte & Mackay said:

"We chose DHL for this shipment because we've had excellent service from them to date and we trust them with our high value shipments. This is a unique project, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it's important we got it right."

Elsewhere however others are not so happy as two global union federations and their thousands of member trade unions plan to keep the heat on Deutsche Post DHL tomorrow over the logistics giant’s mistreatment of its workers in Turkey. They have designated 12/12/12 as Respect at DHL Day, an international action day in solidarity with workers who were sacked and have suffered after exercising their right to choose to join a union.

The situation has been fully covered in our earlier articles but the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and UNI Global Union continue to aggravated by what they see as complacency from the Deutsche Post DHL senior management. UNI Global Union deputy general secretary, Christy Hoffman said:

“We are asking the questions that are increasingly being heard from DHL customers and investors: how much longer can the company refuse to act? How much longer can it ignore what is going on in some of its operations? Until DHL does take responsibility we will keep on holding it to account.”

Last month the two global union federations took a case to the German government charging DP-DHL with having breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, which are policed by national governments. The case accuses the Bonn-headquartered DP-DHL of adopting a deliberate strategy to limit unionisation in countries including Turkey, Indonesia, Malawi, Vietnam, Colombia, Guatemala, Hong Kong and the USA.

Those charges came hard on the heels of the release of Aggressive and unlawful: a report into Deutsche Post DHL operations in Turkey, an investigation which unions say revealed a well coordinated anti-union campaign involving management at the highest levels charging instigators with the use of unfair and illegal sackings, threats and intimidation to create a climate of fear within the company. Ingo Marowsky, ITF organising globally coordinator, commented:

“This day is about once again holding DHL to its stated but failed aims of corporate responsibility. For the sake of all those who work there we want the company to live up to its ideals and ensure the basic levels of fairness that common justice demands.”

The ITF and UNI Global Union are campaigning for reinstatement for the sacked workers in Turkey, an end to victimisation there, and recognition for their union of choice (Tumtis). The two organisations have repeatedly called on DHL to enter into a global framework agreement, a negotiated ‘bill of rights’ that would sets out minimum protections and trade union rights for all DHL workers wherever they work in the world.

Photo: The original cache of Scotch was found in remarkably good condition given the time elapsed and the incredibly harsh conditions and is likely much more mellow than some of DHL’s opponents at the moment.