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ZSP Letter (to Behr and Generalitat) in support of Frape Behr workers

We are writing to express our solidarity with the workers of Frape-Behr who are fighting to maintain their workplaces. We understand that this case will be discussed on January 2. We are asking the Generalitat not to accept the labour force adjustment plan (ERE) and the company to reconsider the firings.

As we understand, the Behr company is in good financial standing and has improved its market position and profits, in large part by pursuing cheap labour practices in places such as Mexico, the Czech Republic, India, South Africa and China. According to Behr’s annual report, Frape Behr increased sales in 2006 by 5.5% to 365 million euros (one million euros per day!). Behr predicts even more growth in the future. Due to the healthy financial performance of the company, and due to the fact that Frape Behr was to start new projects with the Japanese and Turkish markets, we understand that this labour force “adjustment” is not neccessitated by real financial problems but represents rather a global tendency to seek cheap labour in order to maximize corporate profits.

We consider such practices unacceptable. We will not tolerate the continued driving down of wages to third-world levels as corporations move jobs to countries with the most lax labour standards and the lowest standards of living.

Behr writes to potential investors that “Skilled and motivated employees are the foundation of sustainable, profitable growth in the worldwide Behr network.” Behr’s website claims that “Behr's employees are the basis for the further successful development of the company”. If there is any truth in this, then we call on Behr to consider what mass layoffs, plant firings and cheap labour practices really do for employee morale and industrial development.

Without the workers Behr is nothing but a bunch of people with money and expensive suits. It is the workers which bring all value to the company. The Behr company owes the workers at the very least the right to keep their jobs, which they apparently have been successfully performing to the great benefit of the company and its investors.

With this letter, we also wish to express our contempt of the anti-labour practices found in some Behr companies such as in Behr Dayton where the company is being sued by workers who were falsely classified by the company to avoid paying them overtime. Should Behr company ever decide to hire people in Poland, we will make sure that they are well-informed of such practices. We will be certain to inform workers in the Czech Republic (one of Behr’s key performers) of labour developments in that firm.

Związek Syndykalistów Polski
(Union of Syndicalists, Poland)