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Norwegian Unions Call on Government to Review State Pension Fund Investment at Nestlé/'Pattern of Systematic Human Rights Abuses'

Posted to the IUF website 14-Sep-2009

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Fellesforbundet and the NNN, the IUF's Norwegian affiliates with membership in the food sector, together with the national trade union center LO, have publicly called on the Finance Ministry to conduct an evaluation to determine whether the State Pension Fund's investment in Nestlé is compatible with the Fund's ethical investment guidelines.

The letter, co-signed by IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald, draws attention to a "pattern of systematic human rights abuses" by Nestlé, including the company's insistence on excluding the negotiation of wages from collective bargaining (most recently in Indonesia and India). The Fellesforbundet press release announcing the letter describes this as "a clear violation of ILO Conventions on the right to organize and bargain collectively and also a clear violation of the ethical guidelines of the State Pension Fund." The letter also "brings to the attention of the Ministry other examples where Nestlé does not live up to the demands imposed on companies by the ethical guidelines."

The State Pension Fund, with close to USD 400 billion in assets, is the largest owner of shares of stock in Europe and the third largest "sovereign wealth fund" globally. The Fund's USD 2.85 billion investment in Nestlé is its second largest investment.

The four union organizations urge the Finance Ministry to take measures to pressure Nestlé to "respect fundamental ILO Conventions and the ethical guidelines of the Pension Fund. If it is impossible to engage in a constructive dialogue, the Finance Ministry should consider withdrawing its investment in Nestlé."