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1 May 2012
Top economic organisation, the OECD has been asked to investigate the 'blatant violations' perpetrated by Liverpool packaging company, Mayr-Melnhof Packaging (MMP), which has unlawfully dismissed more than 140 workers.
Unite, the largest union in the country, said that the Austrian-owned company has flouted the guidelines laid out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Unite said that the object of the complaint, which has TUC backing, was to stop further illegal breaches of commonly accepted labour standards and to have meaningful negotiations with the parent company, Mayr Melnhof Karton AG (MMK).
The sacked workers have been in dispute with MMP since the company imposed the lock-out on 18 February when it unfairly selected 49 people for redundancy, forcing workers into accepting poorer redundancy terms.
Unite made its move today (Tuesday, 1 May) – International Workers' Day – to expose the continuing shameful and illegal actions of the company.
In the letter to the OECD, Unite's director of organising, Sharon Graham said that Unite is of “the firm view” that the conduct of this company is in breach of both UK/EU law and OECD guidelines.
She said: “The actions taken by the company are almost without precedent in the context of UK industrial relations. The imposed 'lock-out' was the first recorded in the sector for over fifty years in the UK.
“MMP arrogantly thinks it can manipulate Britain's weak labour laws, but the union will pursue this 'rogue' employer across international boundaries.”
Unite's complaint centres on the methods of redundancy selection and redundancy pay; introducing potentially discriminatory selection criteria for redundancy; and reneging on previous redundancy agreements.
Unite wants the OECD to investigate the allegations and is confident that they will be upheld, resulting in the recommendation for a large fine. Such action would cause significant reputational damage to MMK and all the companies associated with it.
Unite is liaising with the Austrian trade union, GPA to co-ordinate a similar complaint to the OECD in Austria.
The dispute has already embroiled the highly ethical Norwegian government, a minority shareholder in MMP and MMP customers including cereal maker Kellogg's, and electrical manufacturer, Philips.