From the TUC

Not so sweet Nestlé

23 Feb 2009, By

I saw the headline “Nestlé Hong Kong: Strike action wins dramatic step-down from management” on the IUF website today and thought I would look a little deeper. It seems that the Hong Kong Nestlé workers took strike action at 6.30 am last Saturday morning to force the reinstatement of their suspended union president. Within five hours management had agreed to meet the union and, faced with strong united action, withdrew the suspension of union president Chan Pong Yin and another worker suspended at the same time.

All this happened just two weeks after the IUF-affiliated Hong Kong Nestle Workers Union called off industrial action as a sign of good will and to pave the way for negotiations on granting permanent employment to temporary workers and establishing formal union recognition. The company launched an aggressive assault on the union by suspending the union president, Chan Pong Yin, indefinitely. In doing so the message from management was clear: Nestle wanted to return to the 17-hour workdays, wage increases of one percent in 12 years, and a system of insecurity maintained by having a third of the workforce on revolving casual contracts.

The famous Nestlé brands are increasingly made in the obscure factories of third-party contractors, raising questions about food safety and quality as well as the working conditions of the new generation of workers who produce, package, warehouse, transport and distribute Nestlé products but are told they don’t work for Nestlé. Nestlé workers around the world are under attack from an abusive system of outsourcing, casualization, “temporary” hiring and “co-packing” which is steadily eliminating the use of permanent employment contracts.

For background on the campaign for union recognition at Nestlé Hong Kong click here and for further information about Nestlé’s employment practices go to the IUF’s NestleWatch website by clicking here .