Published: 01/09/2008

In 2002, Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, declared “Our biggest social responsibility on a global basis is job creation.”

But what happened under Brabeck’s reign as CEO (1997-2007) and continues today was a growth strategy for the world’s largest food company that systematically destroyed and degraded tens of thousands of jobs while Nestlé products filled the shelves of supermarkets, corner stores and street stalls around the world.

While a ruthless buying spree swallowed up local brands and created monopolies for its billion-dollar global brands, 80 factories were closed or sold-off – and more are slated to go.

“Growth” at Nestlé created billion-dollar profits and massive payouts to shareholders every three months (including top executives like Brabeck himself).

While sales have boomed, billions of dollars continue to be diverted to shareholders instead of investing this money in maintaining and creating decent jobs.

Nestlé workers have good reason to fear for the quality, stability and longevity the of their employment.

The famous Nestlé brands are increasingly made in the obscure factories of third-party contractors, raising questions about food safety and quality as well as the working conditions of the new generation of workers who produce, package, warehouse, transport and distribute Nestlé products.but are told they don’t work for Nestlé.

Nestlé workers around the world are under attack from an abusive system of outsourcing, casualization, “temporary” hiring and “co-packing” which is steadily eliminating the use of permanent employment contracts.

Where a unionized worker once made Nestlé products while earning relatively good pay under decent working conditions, there now stands a casual worker employed by a labour hiring agency – with lower wages, no benefits, no health insurance, no right to join a union of Nestlé workers and no idea where she’ll be working next month or even next week.

Nestlé and the business press never tire of relating how Brabeck began his career in Nestlé as an ice cream truck driver and worked his way up the ladder.

If he delivered Nestlé products today, instead of working for Nestlé he’d probably be employed by a third-party contractor, a labour hire agency, or be “self-employed” and driving his own truck, paying the health insurance and pension contributions Nestlé formerly covered.

For thousands of past, present and future Nestlé workers around the world, its: Good food – good life – goodbye to decent work.”