Nestlé, the world’s largest food corporation (which just became bigger with the acquisition of Pfizer’s infant nutrition division), has an advertisement for every product, a corporate social responsibility routine for every occasion, a presentation for every financial analyst and an answer to every question save one. Nestlé cannot explain how its professed commitment to human rights squares with the treatment inflicted on union members at its Nescafé factory in Panjang, Indonesia.
Fifty-three members of the IUF-affiliated SBNIP, a union which has struggled for years for the basic right to negotiate the terms and conditions of its members’ employment with Nestlé, were arbitrarily and vindictively dismissed on October 5-6 last year after the union had signed an agreement with the company to end a strike over a bargaining deadlock. Nestlé has a different explanation for this action, depending on who is asking the question. No one is told the real reason: the workers are being punished for attempting to assert their rights in a country where such efforts are not well received by company bosses and HR managers unaccustomed to challenges to their supreme authority.
The IUF and its members have been calling on Nestlé to reinstate these workers since the mass firings were executed. Nestlé refuses to reinstate them.
A new phase in the campaign will be inaugurated at the IUF’s 26th Congress which begins on May 15. The “We are the 53!” campaign will establish a Nestlé Panjang Justice Fund to assist the workers and their families who are facing severe hardship as a result of Nestlé’s unjust and arbitrary actions.