On January 5 the union at Nestlé Pantnagar, the company’s largest and newest (2006) plant in the country, signed a first collective agreement on wages and benefits, joining its 3 sister unions in the IUF-affiliated Federation of All India Nestle Employees in finally winning the right to negotiate terms of employment previously declared “secret” by management.
It has been a tough struggle for basic rights since the Nestle Mazdoor Sangh (Nestle Workers Union) was formed in March 2009. Workers had to carry out mass protests and sitdown actions to counter dismissals, job reclassifications and management interference to block the formation of the union. In May 2009, management suspended 4 union leaders just a day after signing a tripartite agreement that ended a 4-day strike over trade union rights and unfair dismissals. Legal registration was only achieved in September.
As part of the final settlement, management withdrew the suspension of a founding member who has now returned to work.