European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

Samsung & McDonald’s among multinationals that flout human rights

11/12/2017

The right to join a trade union and the right to collective bargaining are basic, human rights recognised by the UN International Labour Organisation. 

Yet many well-known multi-national companies do NOT recognise trade unions, and do not negotiate with trade unions on pay and working conditions.

The International and European Trade Union Confederations (ITUC and ETUC) are joining forces for Human Rights Day (December 10) to name and shame two multi-national brands and household names that refuse to negotiate with trade unions. 

The ITUC & ETUC today name and shame

Samsung – has a no-union policy in its factories and workplaces, and intervenes to prevent the formation of unions at its suppliers. It pays low wages and has poor health and safety in many countries including its home base in Korea, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Taiwan.   

Samsung accumulates billions in profits at the expenses of its workers. It has a well‐documented history for labour abuses in its supply chain - from union busting, poverty wages, insecure and unsafe work, to forced overtime, informal work and modern slavery. Workers are working in such distressed circumstances that in some countries the company had to remodel its dormitories to prevent employees to commit suicide. It is time for the Giant Tech to ‘End Corporate Greed’ and guarantee a fair living wage and trade union participation and representation for its workers.

McDonald’s – the fast food giant does not bargain with a trade union over working conditions for workers in the UK – but it does in Denmark, France and Germany. In Denmark and Germany the collective agreements cover franchised stores as well as well as McDonald’s own corporate stores. 

"Organising European workers in fast food, EFFAT knows very well the situation of McDonalds’employees in certain countries like the UK", says Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT Secretary General. "As trade unions rights are human rights, it is unacceptable to think that one of the most wealthy multinationals are perpetuating abusive employment practices, poor working conditions, tax avoidance and anti-union behaviors. As the largest employers they should lead by example and guarantee at least a living wage for workers everywhere".

With the European Commission, International Monetary Fund, and other institutions increasingly recognising the need for wage increases to drive economic growth, and tackle inequality, the right to collective bargain is vital not only for working people, but for the economy and social justice.

“There should be no place in a modern economy for companies that do not negotiate with trade unions” said Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the ETUC. “Collective bargaining between employers and trade unions is the best way to get sensible pay rises that benefit workers, company productivity and the economy as a whole.”

“Samsung and McDonald’s like to promote themselves as modern, family-friendly brands, but their attitude to trade unions is strictly 19th century” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ETUC. “We will not rest until workers get a fair deal in these companies.”

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.