Int’l Call Out: British CEO’s Actions Threaten Union Rights in Lebanon

Employees at the Lebanese branches of the supermarket chain Spinneys are being fired from work, physically assaulted, and psychologically terrorized for daring to set up a legally sanctioned independent union, the first such union in Lebanon in decades.

Spinneys British CEO Michael Wright, in cahoots with Lebanon’s powerful elites, has unleashed a vicious campaign to stop the newly-formed union from operating in a safe and conducive environment. The latest escalation by management comes ahead of the union's first general election later this month. Wright and the Spinneys management are also relentlessly trying to silence activists, journalists and anyone else supporting the workers.

Activists are calling on all international media outlets, labour unions, and human rights activists to draw attention to the plight of the workers and to their resilient struggle for their right to dignified work and fair compensation in light of their contribution to the company’s growth and success. The actions of the company are a clear violation of international labour law and basic rights of workers.

Spinneys must not be allowed to persist in its extra-legal bullying campaign with impunity. Exposing the company’s practices on the world stage is crucial to protecting the workers from further harm. Lebanon has yet to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention no. 87 that guarantees the freedom of association and the right to union organizing. Pushing for its ratification is one step towards building a strong and vibrant union movement in the country.

Last August, the ILO issued a strongly-worded letter protesting the company’s appalling treatment of its employees. But the letter appears to have fallen on deaf ears. The company has recently escalated its campaign of intimidation ahead of the union’s first general elections scheduled for November 18, 2012. To show the workers they are not alone, a solidarity rally will be held in front of one of the company’s branches in Beirut’s Achrafiyeh neighbourhood next Monday November 12, 2012 at 5 pm.

To read more about the struggle of Spinneys workers and their working conditions, check:

Media Contact:
Friends of Spinneys Workers
Email: dianakallas@gmail.com
Tel: (+961) 76 124244