Published: 19/11/2002

The unions at Nestlé Netherlands succeeded in negotiating a good collective agreement for the next two years, after having threatened to strike.
The agreement increases the wages by 7% over two years (costs for the employer by about 9% over the 2 years, not including higher pension costs). Nestlé Netherlands manager Mr. Krielen is very angry about the threat of a strike. He accused the unions of unfair dealing by putting the Nestle-negotiator’s back against the wall.

Now Mr Krielen is trying to repress the trade union and the trade unionists. He retaliated by cancelling the “Personal Computer-at-home” programme (a benefit for workers), which however has now been reinstated for blue-collar workers. Nestlé is also requiring employees to pay a 1% contribution to the pension scheme in 2002 increasing till 3% in 2004. The unions are investigating the possibility of suing Nestlé in court to cancel the unprecedented employee contribution for the pension.

The Nestlé Purina pet food plant at Veghel is to be closed by the end of May 2003. A Social Plan was signed on 5 July 2002 with Friskies Netherlands by the works council, advised by the unions.

Since employment is fairly easy to obtain in the area, negotiations focused on a high one-time severance payment and on outplacement services rather than on maintaining employment.

One time payment based on years of service:
up to 1 year – 50% annual salary
1-8 years- 50% + 6.25%/year
9 years – 100% annual salary
10-16 – between 100 and 150%
17 years – 150%
25+ years – 200% annual salary

Because other jobs were plentiful, Nestlé is paying a “stay premium” of up to two months’ additional pay to those who stay until the Veghel factory is closed.
Other conditions are similar to those contained in the social plan for Scharsterbrug below.

The baby food factory at Schartserbrug is slated for closure on 1 January 2003. Most of the 75 employees have found another job, about 20 of them within Nestlé Netherlands. Another 15-20 may be hired by the Dutch firm Vreugdehill, which has acquired the factory to produce milk powder.

An excellent social plan protecting employees at Schartserbrug was negotiated by the unions Bondgenoten FNV and Bedrijvenbond CNV. Signed on 10 June 2002, the Social Plan includes the following provisions:

Goal: All affected employees will find an acceptable solution via a job either within or outside of Nestlé.

Committee of 4 (2 employer, 2 workers, one appointed by works council, one by union) to solve problems of implementation.

It affects all permanent employees. Part-time get all benefits pro-rated.
Transfers within Nestlé favoured. If not possible outplacement through the “Start” agency. All outplacement activities are part of paid work time, and all costs borne by Nestlé or by new employer (travel, retraining, etc.). So long as no job has been secured, combination of unemployment benefit and employer add up to 100% gross salary for 1 year.

If internal transfer within Nestlé:
– all necessary training
– keep years of service
– maintenance of salary if below new job.
– variable income (shift premium, etc.) maintained for 12 months and then declining through 2nd year.
– paid travel time up to 1.5 hours per day until relocation for up to 9 months plus mileage.

Single additional payment depending on service between Euro 2500 and 4500.

Relocation costs (within Nestlé or to new employer)
Paid time to visit new job and 4 days for relocation plus mileage reimbursement.
Moving and relocation costs, compensation for higher rents or costs of buying a new house (mortgage fees, notary, etc.), compensation for double housing costs or commuting costs until new house bought or rented.

Early retirement from 55-60 handled as if already 60. If 60 or more, early retirement with 75% of gross annual income.

No one has to leave before 31 –12-2002. One time additional payment if ending service of I month pay for each service year under 40 years of age, 1.5 months for each year 40-50, 2 months for each year over 50. Minimum payment of 4600 euros. If age 50-54 an additional payment of 4 monthly salaries.