Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How contract workers at Nestle, Bicholim formed their union

Today lets examine the situation of food supply to Nestle contract workers in Maulingem North, Bicholim before 2011. Permanent workers used to be given food. Packers and Tipping contract workers used to be given food. No other contract workers used to be given food on work. House Keeping, Loading-Unloading workers used to go home in the afternoon to get meals on both shifts afternoon as well as Night. Lunch break was just an hour. Traveling used to consume most of the time and energy. Those workers who used to report late after meals used to be scolded. Cooking at home to take meal for work early morning would take efforts and time and often worker would report late at work.

In this context at the General body meeting of the worker Gomantak Mazdoor Sangh decided on May 01, 2011 that Nestle management should provide free meals inside the factory premises. From July 2011 this decision was implemented and Nestle management started giving free meals to the all the contract workers. Factory then had 350 Union members plus 300 more workers who were not the members of the Union but benefited from Union action. Nestle Plant here has about 900 permanent workers. This practice of free meals to all the workers continues till date.

Then Uniform for contract workers was another issue that got on the agenda. Workers used be get uniforms after standing in Que. There was uniform shortages. Company used to give only aprons to wear over the clothes that workers used to wear. Workers agitated and got the Uniform shortages to eliminate and get more Uniforms to be made available. This problem is still not sorted out. It still exists till date. This issue stands unresolved.

Shoes for worker were provided once in six months per pair. Instead of giving good quality shoes poor quality shoes are given to the workers. And those worker who handles water or works in water are not provided any shoes, not even water proof shoes. After agitation also this situation has not changed.

Contract workers were not given double overtime payment for double overtime work. The first timing is from morning 8.00 am to evening 4.00 pm. The Second shift starts at 4.00 pm to 12.00 mid night. The third shift is from 12.00 mid night to 8.00 am. At the end of the shift if the replacement worker has not reported to work then same worker will have to continue into next shift. But company would not pay double overtime but would pay only single overtime. This was a case of exploitation perceived by workers and raised verbally in 2011. This issue got resolved after agitation in June 2011. After this contract workers started getting double overtime. This issue is not completely resolved as company pays only three double overtimes per month even though workers carry on dosing double over time mover than three times every month. This is gross case of exploitation that still continues at Nestle in Maulingem North. We wonder why this is still the case after 54 years Indian Army march into Goa to liberate us. Why contract workers at Nestle continues to languish and suffer this way?

Night allowances are meant for only night shift from 12.00 mid night to 8.00 am. No allowances were given for night shifts. After agitation the night allowances of Rs. 30/- were granted fro a short while. This was stopped after 2013.

Attendance bonus Rs. 250/- would be given to workers after 24 days in month. This was started after the 2011 agitation and stopped in 2013.

Contract workers at house keeping were supplied with improper materials like gloves, wipers, mops with shortages. This issue was taken up before the management and this was issue was resolved to some extend.

In November 2012 Contract workers resigned from Gomantak Mazdoor Sangh. The main reason was that thier Union leader was not ready to address the problems of the Contract workers. Problems like workers harassment, hire and fire policy by which Union committee member Sandesh Gawas and other were fired from the work by the company. Gomantak Mazdoor Sangh, General Secretary Puti Gaonkar refused to support contract worker. This led to tension among workers and finally decided form their own union.  In this manner Nestle Contract Workers Union Ca,me into existence on 27th Novmeber 2012. general body meeting was called to resolve to resign from Gomantak Mazdoor Sangh and register Nestle Contract Worker Union. Adv. Ajitsigh Rane was approached as legal Adviser. Nestle Company tried to dissuade the workers from this decision for unknown reasons. 

Nestle has its global headquarters at Nestlé S.A., avenue Nestlé 55, 1800 Vevey, Switzerland

Anand B. Shirodkar, President, Nestle Contract Workers Union





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