Friday, April 25, 2008

Nestle accused of being anti-worker in Russia

Nestlé workers in Russia are protesting about the company's refusal to negotiate over wage rates.

Business Week reports: 'The workers blame one person alone for the current stand-off: Nestlé factory director Martin Ruepp. He has categorically rejected the union demand to create a binding mechanism for wage increases. The Swiss manager has declared that the company will continue to set wage increases at its own discretion."

Trade union representatives claim that wages are not keeping pace with inflation and they have had a wage increase in real terms for years.

It is of interest how Nestlé treats its workers and communities because sometimes people become involved in the baby milk issue, making unjustified defence of the company, on the basis that it is a local employer. Tom Levitt MP in Buxton is a recent example.

Nestlé does not show the same loyalty.

The Business Week quote above makes reference to York. Nestlé shifted production of some products oversees recently and laid off 645. It then tried to force a change in conditions on the remaining workforce, which the union claimed amounted to a 30 - 40% cut in pay. See:

The Russian workers have the support of colleagues in Germany according to Buiness Week:

"The workers are also finding support for their cause outside of Russia—from Germany's NGG union and the International Union of Food Workers, for example. For these international organizations the dispute addresses a fundamental issue: They fear that Nestlé will move more of its production to Russia if it can push through its low-wage policy in Perm."

Nestlé's refusal to negotiate with the workers is not unusual. It refuses to negotiate with workers in the Philippines, despite court orders calling on it to do so. See:

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