Danone signs a global framework agreement on sustainable employment
Both Danone and the IUF agreed that sustainable, stable and long-lasting employment must favored as one of the best ways to guarantee employees’ full benefit of their fundamental rights. Given that temporary and outsourced employment may deprive workers of certain levels of protection, the global framework agreement (GFA) sets out the principle that recourse to fixed term contracts must be limited to employment that is solely of a temporary nature, non recurring, and for circumstances that are justified and indispensable for the local business’s industrial sustainability.
This agreement sets specific conditions as regards recourse to temporary work including opening of new markets, economic crisis, seasonal fluctuations in business activity, the need for special competences and skills, and business acquisitions. Both parties commit to anticipating the risks (unfair treatment, occupational health and security, access to social protection), as well as the obstacles (freedom to organizes, access to training) that could result from these forms of employment. Finally, the text sets out clear principles to guarantee respect for the fundamental rights for all Danone employees and their subcontractors. The company’s press statement cites such reasons as the opening of new markets, economic crisis, seasonal fluctuations in business activity, the need for special competences and skills and the acquisition of a business.
The agreement intends for management and unions to commit to dialogue on the issue of recourse to these forms of precarious and outsourced employment, as well as the implementation of mechanisms that allow all services suppliers to be covered by the agreement’s contents including respect for fundamental human and labor rights. Recourse to these forms of employment has to be regularly reviewed and their use limited as much as possible. The agreement also sets out the principle for equal pay for equal work, and universal non-discrimination. In addition, all local agreements addressing recourse to precarious employment must take into account the sustainability of the business. Finally all significant changes to structural employment must be subject to negotiations. This is the tenth global framework agreement signed by the group with the first dating back to 1988.
Danone was the pioneer when it comes to companies that negotiated global framework agreements with international union organizations and this practice has not stopped extending. Today 170 multinationals with different nationalities have concluded this type of agreement. However, an agreement specifically addressing restrictions on temporary employment marks a new departure. For several years now, international union organizations have singled out combatting ‘casual work’ as a major priority. For the unions, both transnational negotiations, and securing multinationals’ commitment to limit recourse to precarious forms of employment is a way of making this policy concrete.