Victory for the Fralib Workers. A New Chapter Begins.

Victory for the Fralib Workers.  A New Chapter Begins.

After a three and a half year battle, an agreement has been signed between Unilever and the Fralib employees. This agreement provides for a 20 million euro financial contribution from Unilever for damages caused by the decision to close the tea and herbal infusion factory. The tea and herbal infusions cooperative can be set up and quality production on the site can restart.

On Monday May 26th, an agreement was finally signed between the employees and Unilever ending a dispute which had lasted 1336 days.  This marks a victory for the employees and a new chapter in their struggle. Unilever will pay a total of almost twenty million euros to allow the tea and herbal infusions cooperative to restart, thus saving some of the industrial jobs on the site.

The multinational will provide almost 20 million euros to get the cooperative started.  The agreement specifies that the ownership of the site and the machines, with a value of 7 million euros, will be transferred to the cooperative.  Furthermore Unilever will fund a market study, contribute to setting up working capital and help repair equipment. All the employees will also receive additional discretionary compensation, some of which can be used to top up the capital of the future cooperative.

On Tuesday 27th emotions ran high at a workplace meeting at Fralib. Everyone felt they had won a great victory. As one woman said, " we stood up against the billionaires; we were told we were crazy but our madness has paid off in the end ". Like the ex-Pilpa workers who launched La Fabrique du Sud, the Fralib workers will now have to build their economic plan. This means finding customers, some of whom have already been approached during the struggle. Their final brand name is currently under discussion and they expect to have a big launch day to present their range of products very soon. The cooperative's strength will lie in offering consumers natural, quality products, in contrast to the synthetic flavourings used up until now. The arrival of this cooperative in the food processing sector will help revive the natural flavourings industry in the region.

More than ever the initiative's support networks must mobilise to find outlets for the cooperative, which will restart with around sixty members. In the meantime, the Fralib workers are organising a great victory celebration in their factory for the end of June.