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Rakvere meatpacking plant threatening strikers, trade union says

HKScan owns the Rakvere and Tallegg brands in Estonia.
HKScan owns the Rakvere and Tallegg brands in Estonia. Source: (Tairo Lutter/Postimees/Scanpix)

According to employees of the Rakvere meatpacking plant of meat producer HKScan, the company has begun to threaten them. The company allegedly threatened to fire, blacklist, or otherwise "make their life difficult", the employee's trade union said.

The union is talking about a serious violation of employees' right of association. "By today we've received information that the threats are made first and foremost in other departments, not the slaughter unit, where people already have previous experience concerning strikes. Attempts include influencing employees one by one, but the entire information unavoidably reaches the trustee and trade union immediately," Artjom Arhangelski, secretary at the Estonian Trade Union Confederation (EAKL), said. Arhangelski added that HKScan is trying to create the false impression with employees that a strike planned by the union is illegal.

"We emphasize that the strike at the Rakvere meatpacking plant is carried out meticulously following the law," Arhangelski said, adding that from the trade union's side, the issue is being dealt with by Estonia's best and most widely experienced experts and lawyers.

According to information available to the trade union, employees have been threatened in the central warehouse of the meatpacking plant, in the flavoring unit, and the roast production unit. In order to avoid threats, the trade union suggests employees record conversations, as the activity of the employer is illegal and punishable pursuant to criminal procedure.

The trade union is still asking people to report illegal attempts to influence them, and suggests employees join the trade union for legal protection.

According to the strike notice sent to AS HKScan Estonia, the employees of the Rakvere meatpacking plant are demanding a raise in basic wages paid at the slaughter unit by 16 percent startibg Feb. 1, this year. They also demand a second 16-percent raise starting July 1, 2018.

In addition the employees are demanding that the calculation of performance wages isn't changed. Wage negotiations recently stalled after the employer didn't agree to making any specific wage offers to the employees.

HKScan condemns threatening striking employees

Anne Mere, chairman of the management board of HKScan Estonia, said that the company condemns the threatening of employees who are on strike, and added that the Rakvere meatpacking plant respects people's wish to belong to a trade union.

"We confirm that the employer is observing all laws and rules and fully condemns any kind of threats. We have also repeatedly communicated internally that we respect people's wish to belong to a trade union and their legal right to organize a strike. It is understandable that this is an emotional topic, but I confirm that the company will under no circumstances tolerate this kind of behavior," Mere told BNS.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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