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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Nestlé Philippines Union Leader Murdered - Government Must Act Now!

Posted to the IUF website 26-Sep-2005

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The IUF has called on the government of the Philippines to undertake a full investigation into the murder of a trade union leader at the Nestlé factory in Cabuyao, Laguna, the largest Nestlé plant in the Philippines. Unidentified gunmen shot Diosdado Fortuna on September 22 while he was on his way home from the factory picket line.

The union, which is not affiliated to the IUF, has been on strike since January 2002 in a dispute over bringing retirement benefits within the collective bargaining process, which Nestlé management rejects. The National Labor Relations Commission, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the Philippines have all affirmed, however, that unions have a right to negotiate retirement benefits for inclusion in a collective bargaining agreement. The factory has been operating with "permanent replacements" since management declared a lockout.

The IUF has written to the President and Secretary of Labor of the Philippines to condemn this murder and demand a rapid and transparent investigation into the crime. We have also emphasized the need for government action to bring about a negotiated end to the conflict on the basis of the legal rulings which support the right of unions to negotiate pension issues. The IUF-affiliated Council of Filipino Nestlé Unions has written to Nestlé corporate management in Switzerland to remind the company that the dispute is "about Nestlé workers in the Philippines seeking to negotiate, through the collective bargaining process, something which Nestlé workers around the world consider a basic right: their retirement benefits. Can Nestlé, a company which adheres to the UN Global Compact, in good conscience deny this right to its workers in the Philippines?" The IUF has also communicated its concerns to Nestlé, urging the company to act to resolve the long-running conflict.

The government of the Philippines must act now to investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. Failure to do so would encourage further physical attacks against workers and their unions in a country where anti-union violence is not an uncommon occurrence. You can add to pressure on the government by clicking here to send a message to the Secretary of Labor. Copies of the message will be automatically sent to the IUF secretariat.

We thank you in advance for your solidarity and support.