A strike started today at the Belgian headquarters of snack manufacturer Mondelez as negotiations around a number of collective labour agreements have turned sour. Trade unions call it "unprecedented blackmail" of the social dialogue and called for a two-day strike.
According to trade union secretaries Theo Van Malderen and Diana Minten, the negotiations on manageable work and the transformation of the company have been dragging on for two years. "We are witnessing blackmail that is unprecedented in the history of social dialogue in our country", they told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
At the beginning of last month, the board of directors terminated seven such collective agreements, which affected a number of employees' rights and benefits. It is also said that the management has made new salary proposals to individual employees. "The company is trying to sideline its workers' representatives and trade unions. This is unacceptable, of course. This is in no way in the workers' interests.
According to Mondelez management, it had to cancel a number of those agreements in order to create a uniform remuneration policy. By doing so, it aims to eliminate the inequalities between employees resulting from mergers and acquisitions since 2010. "We have been trying to establish a new uniform remuneration policy for all our employees since May 2018. That is why we have indeed cancelled some elements of the current remuneration policy, and a new proposal is on the table."
Last week, an ultimate reconciliation meeting between the two parties failed. As a result, the trade unions decided not to work today and tomorrow.