Thursday, December 13, 2018

Peace May be Breaking Out between German Freight and Logistics Giant and Union Interests

Much Criticised Group is Looking at Working Practices Far from Home
Shipping News Feature
GERMANY – LATIN AMERICA – WORLDWIDE – The Deutsche Post DHL (DP DHL) freight and logistics group has come in for some harsh criticism in the past few years with regard to the way it handles staff relations and its lack of response to such. Now however comes news of hopefully improving relations after the Global union federations, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and UNI Global Union (UNI) and the German parcel giant have, throughout 2018, worked towards building a constructive and solution-oriented approach to staff relations, by following the agreed procedure of the OECD protocol first established in July 2016.

Under the terms of the protocol the ITF, UNI and DP DHL met four times in 2018, including one with high-level representatives, the General Secretaries of the unions and the DP DHL Corporate Board Member for Human Resources. The meetings and dialogue serve to further build trust and a sustainable relationship, as well as addressing labour relations issues around the world.

In addition, the parties encouraged improvements in the relationships on a regional and local level. For the first time the parties convened a joint visit to Panama in April 2018 to facilitate improved relationships at a local level in the Latin American region. Both sides say that they will continue to work on building trust and ongoing relationships at local level across the globe.

In 2016, the ITF released a report on DHL’s poor labour practices in Latin America, specifically in Panama, Colombia, and Chile. Whilst the three countries have previously been condemned for infringements on workers’ rights by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the report suggested that DHL made little to no effort to protect its workers in the region and instead ‘created a poor record in labour relations, while its working conditions and pay are only marginally better than average, if at all’. The ITF’s point basically came down to the fact that as a huge multinational company, DHL should do better.

This is by no means the extent of labour violation accusations against DHL with workers in Britain and around the world protesting in solidarity over the poor treatment of employees. The ITF has in the past claimed that strong anti-union bias runs rampant throughout the organisation around the world outside of its native Germany.

At a high-level meeting hosted by the German national contact point of the OECD in October 2017, DPDHL, UNI and the ITF requested the protocol to be extended through to December 2019. On the agenda for the 2019 meetings, the parties agreed to explore expanding the content of the regular meetings to be more functional, constructive and a reference guide for industrial issues for all parties. In addition the ITF, UNI and DP DHL agreed to discuss and exchange views on the future of work, digitalisation and responsible supply chain standards.

Photo: When DHL Express refused recognition to a union in Turkey DP DHL workers around the globe protested in support like these in Denmark until the firm agreed.