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Chubb sacks striking workers in East Timor09 January 2004
The situation for the Chubb employees in East Timor continues to be of concern.
Chubb Security in East Timor recently decided (without consultation with their workers) to cut the wages of their East Timorese employees guarding and cleaning the World Bank offices from $US 133 a month to $94 a month. After 8 days of peaceful protest, the 32 workers then began a legal strike on December 3rd 2003. On December 4th, Chubb issued termination letters to the striking workers. Through their union, the Konfederasaun Sindicatu Timor Lorosa'e (KSTL), the workers refused to accept the termination letters, claiming they were illegal because:-
1. It contravenes the Labour Code of Timor Leste Section 37.2c, which says that employers have to give 30 days notice before issuing a termination letter if a worker has worked for a year or more.
2. The picket undertaken on 3rd December was legal because the workers gave prior notification on 18th November 2003.
3. World Bank is not an essential service. According to the Labour Code, essential services include the Police, Ambulance, electricity, hospitals and public transportation (Labour Code, Section 1, Part 2)
4. Moreover, by terminating workers who were undertaking a legal strike, Chubb are acting against the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, Article 51. which guarantees the right to strike.
Currently, the KSTL has lodged a claim in the courts against Chubb for unfair dismissal, but it may be six months before this is heard. Meanwhile, Chubb is trying to re-employ workers on individual contracts with a clause specifying they do not undertake union activity. To date, 5 of the dismissed 32 workers have re-signed the new contract. The new contracts are for $94 a month ($85 wage plus $9 for annual leave, sick leave, etc)
Chubb's parent company, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is a $US 28.2 billion global corporation, with seven operating companies and United Technologies Research Centre. UTC employs approximately 155,000 people worldwide and operates in 180 different countries. It is the 49th largest U.S. corporation and a component of the Dow Jones industrial average. Besides Chubb, UTC's other business units are: Carrier, Hamilton Sundstrand, Otis, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, UTC Power and United Technologies Research Centre.
You can assist the East Timor trade union movement and the dismissed workers by:-
1. writing a letter of protest and sending it to United Technologies in the USA, and also sending copies to the Chubb's Australian head office in Ashfield NSW and to their office in Belmont, Perth (who manage the Chubb East Timor operations). (A proposed letter is below. Please also send a copy to the KSTL on firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to APHEDA on (02)9261 1118 and we will send it on to them).
2. the KSTL also need some money for a strike fund. UNI, from Singapore, have given them some assistance to fight the court case, but any small donations to assist the workers fighting for their just rights would be appreciated. If you work in a union office, please pass the hat around, or raffle a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates to raise a few dollars to send to the KSTL.
PROPOSED LETTER TO CHUBB
Mr. George David
Dear Mr. David,
I am writing to bring to your attention a serious violation of workers' rights by your subsidiary Chubb in East Timor.
According to the information we have received, your company has dismissed a number of employees after they exercised their lawful right to take legally sanctioned strike action.
The union in the country which represents your employees, the Konfederasuan Sindacatu Timor Lorosa'e (KSTL) has informed us that these employees provide cleaning and security services to the World Bank, your client, in its offices in Dili, the capital. They undertook this action in
We consider that the dismissal of these workers is in violation of the national labour legislation of East Timor, is a violation of internationally-recognised labour standards of freedom of association as set out in the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation and is a violation of the workers' fundamental human rights to join a union as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23.
The Chubb website quotes the son of the founder of Chubb in proclaiming the principles which you state now drive your company. " 'Never compromise with integrity,' also a Hendon Chubb principle, captures the spirit of our organization. Each member of the Chubb organization seeks to stand apart in bringing quality, fairness and integrity to each transaction, for the benefit of all involved". There is very little quality, fairness and integrity in the way you are treating your workers in East Timor.
I call on your company to re-hire the dismissed workers and begin negotiations with the union in order that a mutually acceptable agreement may be achieved as soon as possible. I feel that further prolongation of this unacceptable situation may only cause unnecessary material and emotional suffering to your employees and could reflect badly on the reputation of your company.
I look forward to your early response.
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Ph: (02) 9264 9343
Fax: (02) 9261 1118
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