Unilever management at Russia’s biggest ice cream factory in Omsk, Russia has again driven the collective bargaining process into deadlock despite the patience and good will shown by IUF Novoprof members.
Earlier this year, the union suspended its campaign for the first-ever wage negotiations at the factory when the company agreed to talks.
The demands put forward by the workers and their union are simple; annual wage indexation in accordance with inflation (obligatory under Russian labour law) and annual negotiations on an additional wage increase.
These demands are not new. Two years ago, hundreds of ice cream packers (all of them women, all of them former Unilever employees outsourced to an agency supplying exclusively to Unilever) struck for three days demanding a return to direct employment, recognition of their union and decent pay and conditions, including a real wage increase. Their slogan at the time was “A grand per shift”, i.e. 1000 roubles or 30 USD per 12-hour work day. The strike resulted the in the establishment of the NOVOPROF union and the return to direct employment of its members, but wages remain USD 23 per shift, far below the regional industrial standard.
Local union leader Lilia Nasreddinova condemns Unilever for “playing games with us”, adding: “They pretend to be socially responsible and willing to talk with us, but they repeatedly refuse our core demands. We are not going to tolerate this any longer”.
NOVOPROF and its local in Omsk have called on members to be ready for industrial action.
NOVOPROF Omsk local union committee members at the factory with placards reading “Indexation is not the same as a wage increase”, “We demand a real wage increase” and “You cheated, we called for action”.