Published: 12/09/2011

At the Nestlé European Works Council meeting in May 2011, delegates confirmed their intention to focus on three issues of major concern to workers and their unions:

Health & Safety: Nestlé’s promotion of Behavioural-Based Safety (BBS) and Zero-Accident targets has been criticized for generating a policy of blame and leading to a focus on short-term results at the expense of sustainable improvement. The practice of “safety observations” or “safety visits” has been likened to informing on co-workers. It has been noted that the need to achieve reduced accident rates leads to pressure to under-report and to the manipulation of statistics. As a result of these discussions, European management proposed that a specific meeting be held on this topic. The meeting (an ad-hoc steering committee meeting) will take place in Italy, at Nestlé Perugina, on 11 October.

NCE: Nestlé’s high performance work system NCE has generated added work, responsibilities and new skills for factory workers, but union representatives note that the increase in workload, time spent on the job, and the pressures and obligations of responsibility are not effectively recognized and compensated.  Workers with many years of service are being forced to adapt to new processes with little support and little understanding for the challenges they face.

Remuneration Policy: The move toward performance-linked wage increases has been denounced as an attack on collective bargaining. The introduction of the PE (Performance Evaluation) as the basis for wage increases has been denounced as an attack on the role of trade unions in negotiating, representing and protecting the rights and interests of workers. The union representatives at the meeting rejected the introduction of the PE in its current form (linked to remuneration) for all but management staff.

During the meeting, the union delegation from Spain received the news of the decision to suspend the previously announced investments in the ice cream factory in Araia. Taken in the context of deadlocked negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement, this amounts to bullying. The trade union representatives in the NECIC agreed to send a message to Nestlé European management condemning the use of pressure tactics to obtain a signature on a collective bargaining agreement.