Pepsi-Co Faisalabad: brutality against workers, 175 forced sacking

Pepsi-Co Company took a revenge against workers who campaigned for the reinstatement of their sacked fellow workers through holding a large demonstration on 29 January 2018 in Faisalabad. Pepsi-Co administration fired 175 workers forcefully without any prior notice or following legal steps. The sacked workers are now protesting against administration’s brutality. The workers are saying that they are being victimised for the struggle they did for sacked workers earlier this year. PTUS is completely supporting the Pepsi-Co workers and demanding the company to reinstate the sacked workers immediately. Pepsi-Co Pakistan gives their workers neither permanent employment status, nor any kind of benefits. The daily wage of a precarious worker is 500 rupees (£3.20) and if he or she is lucky enough to get work every day, his or her total salary per month, including one day-off a week, is 13000 rupees (£83.20). The situation for permanent workers is not much different: they are paid 620 rupees (£3.90) per day, and their monthly salary amounts to 18600 rupees (£119). It is important to note that the very basic living cost in Faisalabad is more than double the salary these workers are earning. However, the greed of the multinational companies knows no bounds. Each bottle of Pepsi-Cola manufactured in Faisalabad contains the blood and sweat of workers toiling in dismal conditions in this factory. The workers’ so-called legal guardian (the labour department) is just a silent partner of the bosses, and makes a mockery of labour laws. Usually, workers are hired through middlemen or labour contractors of the factory administration and are offered daily, or monthly contracts: permanent workers are few. Unionising workers is a far-fetched dream under these circumstances. The EOBI (Government Pension Contribution System) and government social security system are also non-existent. Employees are forced to work more than 12 hours every day, and their hard-earned wages are subject to cuts and delays. Even the massive exploitation of Pepsi-Cola was not enough, and they started laying-off workers who demanded a pay rise. This created widespread anger amongst the workers, and on 29 January 2018 they shut down the whole factory and went on strike. The principal demand of striking workers was to reinstate their laid-off colleagues. Overnight, workers staged a sit-in strike outside the factory gates. The bosses used all tactics to disperse the workers including a threat to crush them using factory cargo trucks, but not a single threat could budge the workers. The bosses also called a heavy contingent of the police to scare them (see below). Meanwhile, they tried to have a dialogue with the workers, in an attempt to force them to end the strike and withdraw their demands, but they failed. At last the administration announced to reinstate the laid-off workers but asked for a time extension until March 2018 to increase the workers’ wages. After negotiation, the workers ended the strike with the partial fulfilment of their demands. However, no salary increase was provided in March and instead 175 workers were laid off. PTUS is standing side-by-side struggling workers of Pepsi-Co Faisalabad and demanding international workers and trade unions to show solidarity with struggling Pepsi-Co workers.