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International unions back Gate Gourmet workers in Argentina

by admin

Steve Cotton

ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) unions representing Gate Gourmet workers are lobbying the company today in support of the company’s drivers and logistics workers in Argentina who are campaigning for recognition of the work they carry out. Currently the company treats them as food workers.

The drivers have asked for international solidarity ahead of workplace meetings today.

Around 200 drivers employed by Gategroup subsidiary Gate Gourmet Argentina SRL have fought a long campaign to be covered by the company’s national collective agreement with the National Federation of Truck Drivers. For years they have been treated as food workers, subject to the conditions of a different collective agreement. The company has refused their claim because truck drivers’ conditions are better and salaries are close to 40 percent higher than their current wages.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton has written to Gategroup’s chief executive officer, Xavier Rossinyol, urging him to get its Argentinian subsidiary to reestablish dialogue with the drivers’ union, the National Federation of Truck Drivers (Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Camioneros de Argentina). He also expressed concern that the subsidiary was not respecting the agreement achieved with the union in July 2010 and had dismissed shop stewards, which the union considers is illegal.

Unions who have already pledged to act are the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (US), Parat (Norway), Unite the Union (UK), the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia, UNITE HERE of the USA, and ver.di (Germany).

Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, ITF civil aviation secretary, said: “This is a classic – and very worrying – case of workers being denied their right to organise, and being subjected as a result to poorer working conditions on lower pay.

“I urge all our civil aviation unions representing Gategroup workers to act immediately to persuade the company to right the wrong it has inflicted on its Argentinian drivers. If the company refuses to act, the workers may have to step up their legal protests.”

Mr Cotton also wrote today to Argentina’s labour minister, reiterating points made in an earlier letter (to which he received no response) that Gate Gourmet Argentina SRL was acting in violation of the principles of freedom of association contained in ILO Conventions 87 and 98, both ratified by the Republic of Argentina.

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