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Swedwatch vs. Electrolux

Case overview

Date filed 9 April 2013
Current status Rejected
Issue Anti-union measures by Electrolux in Thailand
Summary of the case The complaint was filed simultaneously against the Swedish electronics companies Electrolux and Mönlycke for separate incidents of anti-union behaviour. The complaint against Electrolux alleges that a subsidiary engaged in anti-union practices in Thailand following wage negotiations with workers at its Rayong plant in 2012.Following the negotiations, Electrolux Thailand allegedly removed and suspended the chairperson of the local trade union, detained protesting workers against their will, terminated nearly one hundred employees who participated in demonstrations.

In the Mönlycke case, the complaint concerns action taken by the company at its Thai Factory 1 during wage negotiations with the local trade union in 2011. When the company refused to inform workers on the factory floor about the negotiations, the union arranged to inform the workers and solicit their opinions outside of the factory. In August 2011, Mölnlycke management suspended ten workers - all of whom were active in the union and several of whom were responsible for the distribution of information to the other workers - without explanation.

According to the complaint, the issue was brought to the Thai Industrial Relations Committee (IRC), which concluded that the terminations violated Thai labour law and ordered Mölnlycke to reinstate all terminated employees. However, Mölnlycke appealed the decision, forcing the workers into protracted conciliation meetings. Though the workers initially resisted accepting compensation rather than the reinstatement ordered by the IRC, as time went by an increasing number of workers were forced to accept the companys conditions because they could not continue to provide for themselves or their families without income. The case dissolved in January 2013 when the last worker accepted compensation.

Swedwatch requests that Electrolux and Mönlycke uphold the OECD Guidelines by allowing the suspended and dismissed trade union members to return to work and improving their guidelines and mechanisms for dealing with workers' complaints and negotiation routines, especially in subsidiaries in countries where trade union discrimination is common, as in Thailand. Swedwatch requested the Swedish NCP determine whether the actions of Electrolux and Mölnlycke in Thailand constituted a breach of the OECD Guidelines on trade union rights.
Developments/Outcome In response to the allegations, Electrolux publicly dismissed the claims and said it had not breached the Guidelines.

In September 2013, the NCP rejected both complaints. The NCP said that the ongoing dialogue between Electrolux and the trade unions was the main reason for its rejection and that the parties should find a solution in this process.

The NCP also accepted Mölnlyckes argument that a social dialogue had been initiated between local management and trade unions and that the specific conflict had ended after workers and union members accepted settlements.

Swedwatch said that after the complaints were filed, the social dialogue with the companies led to improvements in the labour conditions at the factories.

In November 2013, the NCP hosted a follow-up meeting with Swedwatch, Electrolux, and Mönlycke. The NCP reiterated its decision not to formally take on the cases because both companies had taken action to improve the situation. The NCP also said it would monitor developments.

In June 2014, Swedwatch noted that a report by the Swedish union, IF Metall, states that the Electrolux plant still does not have any union representatives because the workers are afraid to organise.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Chaîne d’approvisionnement, Les droits du travail, Les droits de l'homme

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Sweden
NCP address Gustav Adolfs Torg 1 103 33 Stockholm, Sweden
NCP website http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/1475
Other NCPs involved

Complainant

ONG

Company Information

Company responsible Electrolux
Company address
Company website
Company in violation Electrolux
Country of operations Thailand
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
1 September 2013 National Contact Point Sweden reject In September 2013, the NCP rejected both complaints.  
9 April 2013 SwedWatch file Complaint filed at Swedish NCP download pdf (573Kb)  

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