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In April, United Auto Workers (UAW) filed a complaint against Mercedes-Benz under the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act over anti-union activities at a Mercedes-Benz plant in the US. 

  • On 3 April, US trade union, United Auto Workers (UAW) announced it had filed a complaint against Mercedes-Benz under the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act. 
  • The complaint alleges violations of workers’ rights to freedom of association at Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama plant, operated by its US subsidiary. Workers at the plant are currently organising to join the UAW.  The plant was established in 1995 as the first major plant outside Germany and currently employs 6100 employees. According to UAW, US-based plants are the only non-unionised Mercedes-Benz plants in the world.
  • The complaint includes seven alleged violations under the Act, including
    • A letter from the US subsidiary’s CEO to employees to discourage union activity
    • A mandatory plant-wide meeting held by the CEO to discourage unionisation
    • An additional mandatory plant-wide meeting where supervisors tried to stop union supporters from passing out UAW hats.
    • The firing of a union supporter with Stage 4 cancer for violating a no-phone policy, although he has been permitted to have a phone to receive updates on medication
  • In 2023, UAW organised extensive strike action against the Big 3 car manufacturers – General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Stellantis. These resulted in an agreement outlining significant gains in wages and working conditions.  Under the agreement, workers will receive wage increases of at least 33% over the next three years, with some of the lowest-paid workers expecting an increase of over 160%. The agreement also included annual bonuses for retired members for the first time in 15 years, and the commitment to include jobs within electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing under the union’s national agreements. 

About the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act 

  • The Supply Chain Due Diligence Act was adopted in June 2021 and came into force in January 2023. The Act includes sanctions for non-compliance, including pecuniary sanctions based on company turnover. Companies with average annual sales of more than €400 million can be issued fines of up to twopercent of their average worldwide annual sales.  
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