Support continues for sacked union activist Monica Okpe

13 February 2012: Monica Okpe, a representative of the Oslo Transport Workers’ Union, was dismissed almost without notice from her job at DHL’s Ulven terminal in Norway in May.

The reason given was three alleged unauthorised absences from work and one late arrival. Monica refutes these allegations, and her many supporters point out that in Norway you can only be dismissed from your job immediately for grave misconduct such as theft or sabotage, not for arriving 50 minutes late.

There is a widespread feeling among trade unionists in the country that her dismissal was linked to her successful union work, including as a leader during a national strike which won important rule changes on the use of temporary workers, employment agencies and short term contracts.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union have filed an application in both the labour and civil courts challenging Monica’s dismissal.

Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union president Roger Hansen declared: “DHLs reasons for Monica’s dismissal alone are enough to show that the company is out to get one of our high profile officials. It is an unacceptable attack on an active and good union rep” . The case has galvanised support for Monica, leading to a demonstration outside DHL Ulven in June, and multiple demos at DHL premises worldwide as part of an action day taking place during the ITF road transport action week in October.

As a result of the campaigns by transport and food workers’ unions, Kraft Food, DHL’s biggest customer in Norway, has announced that it will terminate its contract with the company next year. Unions have stated that only one outcome is acceptable – that Monica is reinstated and allowed to resume her work as a union representative inside DHL.

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