The IUF has called on the French-based food transnational Danone to clarify its position on employment security in the light of alarming stories in the French press citing company plans to restructure its biscuit division in Continental Europe. The press reports, which appeared first in Le Monde on January 10, spoke of ten factory closures and the elimination of 3,000 jobs.

"If there is any truth in these reports", said IUF general secretary Ron Oswald,  "we are facing a major and unacceptable destruction of jobs by a company that has always claimed to place a high priority on maintaining responsible social policies and introducing change in a socially acceptable manner.

"We have demanded an early emergency meeting of the full Danone Information and Consultation Committee, a body composed mainly of the IUF affiliates who represent the vast majority of Danone's European workforce. I am pleased that the company has reacted by agreeing to such a meeting as early as Wednesday January 17. At this meeting we expect from Danone a full and frank explanation of these reports and the company's subsequent public statements that they have made no final decision at this time on the future of the biscuit division.

"IUF member organizations representing Danone workers throughout Europe and around the world will act on the clear assumption that no final decision can have been reached without prior consultation with the trade unions representing Danone workers. We expect full disclosure and transparency as well as the fullest cooperation from Danone to allow us to seriously explore alternatives should the dramatic level of job losses reported in the French press this week prove to be on Danone's corporate agenda.

"In particular", continued Oswald, "the IUF will insist that Danone support a thorough and independent study to examine in detail the future development of the company's biscuit division. Such a study will require time to carry out. It will necessarily play an important part in allowing IUF affiliates to prepare a comprehensive, concrete and unified response in the event that Danone confirms its intention to proceed with major restructuring.

"The manner in which the company handles this issue over the coming weeks and months will be a true test of Danone's assertion that it aims to be a successful company whilst maintaining its firm and frequently-reiterated commitment to the highest level of corporate social responsibility. Danone workers internationally and public opinion in general will judge the credibility of this claim based on the company's concrete response to these disturbing reports of a looming job crisis for thousands of workers and their families."

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) is an international trade union federation composed of 337 trade unions in 118 countries with an affiliated membership of 2.5 million members. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland