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Kraft Foods Argentina: The H1N1 disparity

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In July of 2009, an announcement was made by the Argentinean government, expressing their concern about the severity of the H1N1 outbreak. This announcement caused much unrest with the workers in a Kraft Foods factory, located in the suburbs of Argentina. When management ignored the requests of both the government and the employees for basic improvements in the conditions around the plant to protect the workers, the employees took action against the company by way of a protest. This incident resulted in 160 people being fired (including all of the non-official union members), ultimately causing a more severe retaliation which led to a work stoppage in the factory. Days later, the workers were removed by the police with force, injuring many. Since the incident, Kraft has been forced to re-instate many of the fired workers but is still in legal battles regarding the rest of the workers.

The case highlights a series of incidents that involved workers’ rights at this international factory of a multinational U.S. company. It highlights the power and influence that exists within organizations and shows how each of the key stakeholder groups use this power in order to influence change. It highlights how leadership styles and barriers to communication can impact the overall health of an organization. It illustrates the differences in business practices within developing countries when they are heavily reliant on outside investments and host countries, how the espoused and enacted values differ significantly, and how the treatment of employees creates new and significant risks for individuals, families and communities who are already marginalized and oppressed.
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Keywords: Argentina; Developing countries; communication; conflict; employee rights; espoused and enacted values; ethics; human rights; leadership; motivation; multinational companies; negotiation; organizational politics; organizational structure; power

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2013

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