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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Nescafé Workers in Indonesia Celebrate May Day at the Factory Gate to Highlight Rights Violations

Posted to the IUF website 06-May-2009

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The Nestlé Indonesia Panjang Workers Union (SBNIP) has been struggling to negotiate a new collective agreement with the world's largest food company since late 2007. Rather than negotiate, Nestlé management has attempted to intimidate the union leadership and challenge the union's legitimacy; it has set up a bogus workers organisation and attempted to institute a "forum" for information and consultation; it has claimed that Indonesian law does not oblige the company to negotiate wages and that wage scales are "confidential"; it has attempted to take the collective bargaining dispute to Industrial Court rather than bargain in good faith with the union.

The IUF has filed a submission against Nestlé for violation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises with the Swiss National Contact Point (the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), responsible for the implementation of the Guidelines. The submission has been found to be relevant under the Guidelines (refusal to engage in constructive negotiations and to provide information necessary for collective bargaining) and the IUF is co-operating closely with the NCP as it investigates the case.

While the SBNIP has held numerous rallies off-site in the town of Lampung, on May Day, it held a first-ever rally in front of the Nescafé factory in Panjang, causing management to panic.

As workers began to gather in front of the factory gate, panicky Nestlé managers anxious to protect the company image covered the Nestlé logo with blue tarpaulin. The banner reads: "We make Nescafé for you, but they don't give us our rights".

"Nestlé, negotiate in good faith - together with us NOW!".

Wives of Nescafé workers came out to show their support wearing shirts reading "National campaign for wage negotiation rights and job protection".

In addition to the May Day rally in front of the gates of the Nescafé factory in Panjang and a march through the streets of Lampung, members of the SBNI and IUF staff participated in a seminar at Lampung University on 30 April on freedom of association and the right to negotiate wages. On the panel were the head of the Lampung City Department of Labour and the head of SBNI. Workers and students alike denounced the Labour Department as incompetent and accused it of negligence with respect to the Nestlé dispute.

The union will continue organising public action in Indonesia while the IUF will ensure that the dispute and the actions receive maximum publicity internationally.