Thursday, March 8, 2012

Unions Protest as Global Freight Shipping Group DHL Release Profit Figures

New Website Planned to Demand Equal Rights for Supply Chain Workers Worldwide
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – US – NORWAY – WORLDWIDE – A new website ‘Respect at DHL’ has been launched today to challenge global freight forwarding and supply chain shipping giant DHL over matters which transport and other unions say persecute the company’s work force in different parts of the globe. The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and UNI global union want world logistics giant DHL to guarantee the same basic rights to all its workers, wherever they are. The unions say this would make the use of lie detectors and intimidation reported by staff at some of its global subsidiaries as unthinkable as the idea of employees in its German home base being treated that way.

The protest has been timed to coincide with the German group’s release of annual figures which unions claim will reveal ‘solid profits’. Alongside advice for DHL workers the new website contains a number of testimonies of former staff who make allegations as to how they were threatened, overworked and even forced to take lie detector tests. At a time when austerity is affecting global economies the unions say employers often use the restricted employment opportunities to pressurise workers. Alan Tate, UNI GlobalUnion campaigns director said:

“The best way for DHL to celebrate the kind of good practice they like to point to is to spread it across all their operations. For us this has always been about two things: dialogue and a negotiated global framework agreement that says ‘yes, we think all our workforce deserves the same basic protection and rights’. Going down that route might have saved the company from having its Exel subsidiary fined $283,000 for health and safety violations last month, after the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that over four years it intentionally failed to report 42 serious injuries to workers at a plant it runs for Hershey chocolates.”

He concluded: “With DHL embarking on another year of expected profitable trading there’s no better time to ensure fairness across all its operations - not just some - and put in place a structure that allows union representation for all DHL workers and prohibits the kinds of sometimes horrifying violations of standards of common decency that are detailed on this new website.”

When we published an upbeat report regarding DHL investment in the Cincinnati/North Kentucky airport in February 2011 it generated the most vitriolic comments of the year and Mr Tate’s view was supported by the ITF who, together with UNI operate a blog for disenfranchised and critical employees of the major 3PL groups. ITF global organising coordinator Ingo Marowsky, commented:

“The DHL financial results come out on International Women’s Day, and on that day we congratulate the company for finally selecting a woman for its board, Angela Titzrath. Our door is always open to constructive talks with the company, and we look forward to opening discussions with her when she takes on her new role as head of labour relations this summer.

“DHL were brought to book yesterday in Norway, whose labour court found that trade union official Monica Okpe had been dismissed under false pretences, and ordered her reinstated and compensated. That case is another timely reminder that DHL has to respect women’s rights and all the other rights that those who work for it need to have guaranteed. Workers are essential for an unbroken logistics chain and DHL are invited to factor that fact in to all their global plans.”