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A translated press release from ZADS

The original text in Swedish here

ZADS is the syndicalist union at Zalando's warehouse in Stockholm County. ZADS is a part of the Central Organization of Workers in Sweden (in Swedish: Sveriges arbetares centralorganisation, SAC).

Below, a few explanations within brackets [] have been added to the original press release.

SAC central contact: sekretariatet@sac.se 

EMPLOYEES AT ZALANDO'S WAREHOUSE DEMAND THEIR OWN COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT!

"Employees at staffing companies are treated like slaves" - "We are not allowed to sit and rest our legs" - "When we say no we are threatened with dismissal" - "When we are injured we are punished with heavier work". At the e-commerce giant Zalando's warehouse, more than a hundred employees have formed their own union to protest the conditions in the workplace. On Saturday 3 July, fifteen employees spoke out in the newspaper Expressen and testified to what they believe is a modern slavery - or "the new Swedish model". Now they demand their own collective agreement.

In 2017, Zalando opened a warehouse in Brunna, in Northern Stockholm. The warehouse is run by Ingram Micro Nordic Services AB, who also employ workers to mainly pick and pack.

In the winter of 2019, employees sounded the alarm in the newspaper Aftonbladet where they testified to horrible conditions in the workplace. Shortly after the article was published, the employees started their own union ZADS (in Swedish: Zalandoarbetares driftsektion) within the trade union SAC Syndikalisterna. Today, ZADS is the largest union in the workplace with a majority of permanent employees as members.

Almost two years after the article in Aftonbladet, conditions have not improved, but worsened. The workplace has lacked local safety representatives. Meanwhile, ZADS have repeatedly highlighted bad working conditions in negotiations and demanded measures to remedy health and safety problems such as harassment, stress and wear-and-tear injuries. ZADS have meanwhile defended four trade unionists against dismissals. All dismissals have completely lacked a reasonable cause.

During the negotiations, the company has replied that they have a good collaboration with Transport [a bureaucratic / business union within the confederation LO]. With reference to the collective agreement [with Transport], they have chosen not to remedy any of the problems the employees themselves raise. Therefore, in May, ZADS chose to present a proposal for its own collective agreement. After the company declined the agreement, the harassment of the employees became even worse.

"I have been on sick leave three times in four weeks. When I asked to see a psychologist at the occupational health care [a service payed by the employer], my boss says that he does not intend to help me as long as I am in the union. After a conclusion of the negotiation, my boss came to me. At the hearing, we had raised work environment problems and presented a proposal for a collective agreement. He told me, in two months I would not be working here anymore", said Tushar Miaji, an employee of Zalando's warehouse.

On Thursday 17 June, thirty employees held a rally outside the warehouse. They lined up with signs:

"Employees of staffing companies are treated like slaves"
"We are not allowed to sit and rest our legs"
"When we say no, we are threatened with dismissal"
"When we are injured, we are punished with heavier work"

After the rally, several of those who participated received warnings from the company.

On Friday 2 July, the company announced to ZADS that they intend to dismiss union members. Idriss Mohamed in the section was obliged to immediately leave the workplace with a reminder of the intended dismissal.

On Saturday 3 July, fifteen employees spoke out in the newspaper Expressen, they broke the silence and testified to the humanitarian catastrophe that is going on inside the workplace.

In the article, Federico Moreno writes:

Tala Salama says she does not want to focus on individuals, but on the company and society that exploits newly arrived women.

In the end, she resigned from her job, despite the fact that she had not worked for the two years required to get the opportunity for a permanent residence permit.

[…]

- I don’t dare apply for new jobs in Sweden. It's too easy to use me as a newly arrived woman. You know, today I mourn that I was born a woman.

ZADS now continues to fight for a collective agreement and:

• the right to have union meetings during working hours

• the right to appoint their own workplace representatives and safety representatives.

• that no one should have to have conversations with their boss alone if they do not want to

• that employees who have kids can have their cell phone on so that relatives can reach them in an emergency

• that workstations where the work is performed standing are provided with chairs

• to have a notice board for union information.

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ARTICLES

"Organizing on the job at Zalando" in the US Journal ASR

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