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On Thursday, December 13, 2012, former workers from the Natais popcorn factory in Bézéril, France will go to trial for supposed „defamation” of their ex-employer, for talking about their working conditions on a blog.
Among the problems the workers faced was exposure to Diacetyl. This chemical can cause bronchitis obliterans, also known as „popcorn workers' lung”, or other serious respiratory illnesses. Diacetyl is a component of the artificial butter flavor used in microwave popcorn. Bronchitis obliterans is irreversible and can lead to death.
The workers at Natais popcorn factory are not even given masks to protect themselves from the vapors. They also must work in extreme heat. Around 80% of the people at the factory are temporary workers. The work is hard, people are sometimes forced to work on Sundays, the pay is bad.
There was even a strike at the factory. A year-end bonus was won, but then the union called off the strike. Some workers however tried to keep fighting. For trying to speak out against these conditions, a case was brought against 2 of the strikers, now former workers of the company.
The ZSP-IWA has sent the following protest to the company:
The ZSP, Union of Syndicalists, Poland, is writing concering the situation of the workers being sued for supposed defamation of your company.
We are outraged by the fact that workers who are exposed to extremely dangerous substances such as Diacetyl, without any special protection, and who have no employment stability are also being subjected to this legal repression by your company.
We demand that instead of repressing those who are trying to fight for their rights, health and decent working conditions, that you ensure their safety, provide better working conditions and apply the correct collective agreement for them.
We will follow this case and inform the public of your actions. We also will warn workers against seeking employment with your firm, and consumers against purchasing your products.
The ZSP sends its solidarity to the workers and all its moral support. We all need to fight to defend the rights of workers, especially to speak openly against their conditions, a right which is coming increasingly under attack by the bosses and their servants who administer law and injustice.
We call on comrades around the world to support this case by sending an email to the company. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample text: We demand an end to the repression of Natais workers and support their struggle for safer working conditions and job security. (Add whatever you like to text.)
Below find some leaflets and material about this case! You can also support by printing these out for distribution and hanging in places where people might be interested.