Nestlé European Works Council Steering Committee denounces Nespressure in Indonesia, Tunisia, Russia, the UK, Hungary and Spain
While the union at Nestlé Indonesia in Panjang, SBNIP, continues to be denied the opportunity to exercise its right to negotiate wages and the Nestlé Tunisia Workers Union is struggling to obtain full implementation of an agreement which was signed by the company and the government labour authorities in January to end an industrial dispute, unions in Europe are experiencing pressure when exercising basic rights such as forming unions and defending the interests of their membership.
The members of the Nestlé EWC Steering Committee received an update on ongoing disputes at a meeting on 8 March. With respect to the dispute at Nestlé Waters in Russia (discriminatory treatment of workers who joined the union and dismissal on spurious grounds of a union leader), Steering Committee members agreed to generate more protest letters to Russian management. The Nestlé trade unionists from Germany who wrote personalised messages to the Nestlé Russia General Manager, who was previously in management functions in Germany, agreed to follow-up with strong replies to the vague and empty response he sent them.
In the UK, Nestlé announced a nation-wide pay freeze in November, adding that employees would, however, receive pay rises in the form of performance-based bonuses. The UK shop stewards and their unions have rejected this attempt to substitute discretionary wage adjustments for collective bargaining. In the absence of meaningful negotiations anywhere at Nestlé UK since the announcement, the unions are preparing to ballot the membership on industrial action over this attack on the unions' negotiating rights.
In Hungary, where Nestlé does not negotiate wages, but a package including benefits and wages, the union is fighting for more fairness and transparency in the system. In this package the amount of benefits is the same for everyone, but Nestlé distributes the wage increase component at its own discretion. Nestlé Hungary is pressuring the union to agree to its proposed package, which takes into account a new wage category system - which the company intends to set up later. The union has refused to sign away the members' interests on a blank cheque.
In Spain, negotiations for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement at the frozen and chilled foods plant in Valladolid are deadlocked and Nestlé has been using Nespressure to reach its objectives. An attempt to undermine the union negotiating committee and collect signatures of workers in support of the company's collective bargaining proposal has backfired: the workers stood up to the pressure and confirmed support for their negotiating committee.
The Nestlé EWC Steering Committee has denounced the discriminatory treatment of trade union activists, attacks on collective bargaining rights, attempts to subvert the collective bargaining process and have pledged support to unions and workers in their fight against Nespressure.