LONDON, UK, April 15, 2015 /CNW/ - The Annual General Meeting of Carnival Corporation and Carnival PLC yesterday in London was dominated by questions about CEO Arnold Donald's role in a 19-month strike by United Steelworkers (USW) members in Toronto.
Donald ducked responsibility for his role in the ongoing labour dispute at the Toronto manufacturing plant operated by multinational Crown Holdings, of which Donald serves as a director.
On Tuesday outside Carnival's AGM at the historic conference centre abutting Westminster Abbey, activists of Unite the Union, Britain's largest union with 1.4 million members, wore life vests and held a huge banner stating, 'Why Is Donald Arnold Throwing Workers Overboard?' They leafleted the 200 or so shareholders as they entered the centre.
Donald, who contended he could play no role in changing the Crown's position in the Toronto strike, was confronted at the AGM by several tough questions, including Kemal Ozkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, whose affiliates represent over 50 million union workers.
Ozkan reminded Donald that Crown's demands for dramatic wage and benefit cuts and its efforts to destroy the union undermined Carnival's own business plan. Carnival is dependent on good wages, pensions and paid vacations that union agreements provided, said Ozkan, who also cited examples of Crown engaging in union busting in Turkey, Colombia, Morocco and Ghana.
Alfred Mungra, one of the striking Toronto workers and a highly skilled 28-year employee, said Donald was hurting Carnival's own reputation through his involvement with Crown. Mungra said he once took his family on a Carnival cruise, but he and other workers would never be able to afford it if Crown is successful in gutting wages by as much as a third.
Bob Lapchuk, another Crown striker and 42-year employee, told Donald that over 20 million union members in North American are prepared to boycott Carnival. The one-million-member Ontario Federation of Labour, 500,000-member Congress of Union Retirees of Canada and the 195,000-member Toronto and York Region Labour Council have already initiated boycotts of Carnival in Canada.
Today, Unite members and members of Community – formed by Unite to provide a voice to workers in unrepresented workplaces – leafleted and picketed the Carnival European headquarters building in Southampton despite heavy security. Despite being told by Carnival management not to take leaflets, scores of employees took the information inside the building and talked to the picketers.
Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world and operates under nine brands. According to the International Transport Workers' Federation, 20 Carnival Corporation ships sailing out of U.S. ports with the Carnival brand are the only ones to be non-union. Carnival ships have been described as the Walmart of the cruise industry and blamed for holding down wages and benefits of workers in the industry.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)