unimpressed by Nestlé
The Ethics Committee
of the UK National Union of Students Services division engages
in "dialogue" with problem companies to encourage them to change.
However, it judged such meetings with Nestlé as a futile exercise
and called a halt in December 1999 after the personal intervention
of Nestlé Vice-President, Niels Chritiansen, who flew in from
David Boyle of the
Ethics Committee told the student paper Warwick Boar: "The
meeting [with Christiansen] saw a complete refusal by Nestlé to
accept any wrong doing or the opinions or beliefs of anyone but
themselves. The way in which Nestlé whitewashed any issue that
arose and shot down any intellectual discussion of an issue was
quite frankly insulting to myself, to the NUSSL and to the student
body as a whole."
The company reacted
by sending its new public relations book: Nestlé implementation
of the WHO Code to all Student Unions, in a direct attempt
to undermine the boycotts supported by many colleges. The National
Secretary of NUS sent a mailing in response with a briefing paper
from the Ethics Committee on its meetings with Nestlé and Baby
Milk Action's analysis of Nestlé's book Don't
Judge a Book by its Cover. The issue was to be debated at
the NUS national conference in April, but has been postponed due
to lack of time.
If your college is
not yet supporting the boycott, contact
Baby Milk Action for resources to raise awareness.
accused of "ethnic cleansing" by Zimbabwe Minister of Health
Dr. Timothy Stamps,
Minister of Health, Zimbabwe, was interviewed by Mark Thomas for
a programme broadcast on 13th January 2000 (see http://www.channel4.com/mark_thomas/gmcows2.html).
Mark asked: "If Mr. Brabeck, the Chief Executive of Nestlé
was here, what would you say to him?"
Dr. Stamps: "Why
do you want to destroy my children? Are you interested in ethnic
cleansing to the extent of eliminating all African children? That's
what I would ask him."
Nestlé responed to
Mark Thomas: "If Dr. Stamps feels this way, he should talk
to us about it." Mark Thomas explained that he then began
to receive faxes from Mr. Brabeck promising that all products
would have labels including the "primary language" of the country
where they are sold. This has been a requirement for 19 years.
- The Programme also
featured Mark at the News World Conference in Barcelona. The
Director of TV and Visual of Reuters and the Head of Newsgathering
at the BBC questioned Nestlé about its labels on the
telephone in front of 250 journalists.
16 go free
Legal proceedings against
16 people demonstrating at a Nestlé factory were dropped in February
as protests were being arranged across the UK. The 16 had been
protesting against Nestlé for the role it is playing in pushing
for deregulated trade through the World Trade Organisation. The
demonstrators unfurled a banner saying "People and Planet before
Profit" on the roof of a Nestlé factory in Halifax. They were
charged with conspiracy to burgle.
- Accoring to a report
in the Warwick Boar newsletter unknown persons posed as Baby
Milk Action staff at a demonstration at a Nestlé recruitment
event in November 1999 and were seen to leave with Nestlé staff
afterwards. Nestlé told Baby Milk Action that this did not happen.
Brabeck's "Search for Trust" - we give ten tips
On 30th November 1999
Nestlé's Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, made a presentation
to 20 students at the Oxford University European Affairs Society.
This has now been published as the booklet Beyond Corporate
Image: The Search for Trust and distributed around the world.
These ten tips Nestlé could follow to help Mr. Brabek in his search.
1. Don't ignore reports
Baby Milk Action reports
violations to Nestlé, but generally does not receive any response,
which is why we also ask members of the public to write. Monitoring
reports produced by IBFAN and by other organisations such as the
Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring have been dismissed
out of hand as "biased" and "flawed".
2. Don't launch labels
onto the market when they have been rejected by Governments
Malawi labels still inadequate
Nestlé's CEO, Peter Brabeck, ordered the label
shown here in a Nestlé Code "Action"
report to be launched in Malawi - just before the second
Mark Thomas television programme - without Government
approval. The Government told Baby Milk Action that it
rejected the label because the warning about the hazards
of inappropriate preparation is not in Chichewa, the national
language, and there is no graphic showing cup feeding.
The Government has been calling on Nestlé to respect
its requirements since at least 1994.
- also see Nestlé
fined in Costa Rica.
3. Don't defame people
behind their backs
Nestlé is telling
journalists that former employee and whistle blower Syed Aamar
Raza (see Milking Profits
- Update 27) attempted to blackmail the company but has ignored
Mr. Raza's request for a copy of the evidence. Baby Milk Action
has written many times over the past year without receiving any
substantiation for the blackmail allegation.
In a similar vein,
Mr. Brabeck attacked Nestlé's critics at a press conference in
the UK in May 1999 "singling out Carol Bellamy, the New York-based
executive director of UNICEF, for particular scorn," according
to the Independent on Sunday (9th May 1999).
4. Don't go back on
Nestlé breaks big
promises, such as its undertaking to follow the Code, and also
small ones. For example, in Nestlé's January Code "Action" report
Nestlé's Vice President Niels Christiansen said in an open letter
to Baby Milk Action about Mr. Raza's allegations: "We investigated
them in detail, and took action on the small number which had
merit, which we would be glad to share with you." Baby Milk
Action immediately wrote accepting the offer, but still has not
received the information.
5. Don't waste your
Nestlé has spent
what must be a substantial amount of money distributing a 180-page
hard-bound book around the world. This attempt to divert criticism
has turned into a public relations disaster (see Update
6. Don't mis-lead
Mr. Brabeck did just
this in 1999 to hide the company's embarassment at losing to Baby
Milk Action before the UK Advertising Standards Authority (see
Boycott News 25).
7. Don't sack people
for joining trade unions
The Union of Filipro
Emploees reports that 65 people were sacked from Nestlé's Magnolia
factory in the Philippines in January for being members of the
8. Don't keep your
Mr. Brabeck claims
that Nestlé has conducted over 130 audits of the marketing activities
of its subsidiary companies and claims that he "personally reviews
any hint of a violation." Nestlé won't even reveal which countries
have been audited, let alone the results of the audits.
9. Pay your tax
It was reported in
The Times of India on 6th March that the tax department "has
unearthed income tax evasion by the company and will issue orders
directing the company to pay up the arrears after calculating
the total evaded amount."
10. Don't put company
profits before infant health
Mr. Brabeck became
Chief Executive because of his expertise in marketing and he has
promised shareholders he will deliver 4% growth in turnover year
after year after year. This puts him under great pressure to perform
and to expand markets. Mr. Brabeck must accept that sometimes
it is better not to push to be market leader - such as when this
contibutes to death and suffering.
caught up in Nestlé's cause-related marketing plan
has launched a public relations offensive on the baby
milk issue (Marketing Week, 2 December 1999 - cutting
In 1999 Nestlé
lost its battle before the UK Advertising Standards Authority
last year after it claimed to market infant formula "ethically
Advice was offered
by Saatchi and Saatchi that bad publicity could be countered
by aggressive advertising of links with charities and good
causes (Marketing Week, 11 February 1999). In the last year
Nestlé has offered substantial sums of money to UK
charities. It is also stepping up its approach to charities
in Southern Africa. While some UK charities have turned
down the money on principle, others have accepted. Four
did so as part of Nescafé promotions (Nescafé
is the main target of the boycott).
British Red Cross says: Nestlé has given its assurance that
it follows the Code and WHO confirms Nestlé is complying. Will
review if the situation changes.
Baby Milk Action's response: WHO has said it has not
given any charity such an assurance. In the light of this, the
British Red Cross has been asked by Baby Milk Action to review
its arrangement with Nestlé.
KCN says: Nestlé has assured KCN that it follows the Code.
KCN will review its arrangements if it receives information
to the contrary.
Baby Milk Action's response: KCN, like other charities
taking Nestlé money, has been sent evidence of Nestlé malpractice
by Baby Milk Action and invited to meet.
Shelter says: Shelter needs the money and while aware of
the allegations against Nestlé the terms of the partnership
meet its fundraising criteria.
Baby Milk Action's response: We are pleased that Shelter
acknowledges the allegations against Nestlé, but we regret
that Nestlé is attempting to polish its image and boost
Nescafé sales through the link - Sheleter's name will
appear on Nescafé jars.
Macmillan says: Nestlé has given its assurance that it follows
the Code and Baby Milk Action has also put its case. MacMillan
has legal responsibilities under charity law and can only refuse
the money if: a) it comes from illegal activities, b) it brings
the charity into disrepute, or c) it compromises the aims of
Baby Milk Action's response: After meeting several years
ago Baby Milk Action and MacMillan agreed not to undermine each
and the Ethical Trading Initiative
Nestlé has approached
the UK development agencies (NGOs) involved in the Ethical Trading
Initiative - a UK Government sponsored intiative involving Trade
Unions, businesses and NGOs, which seeks to improve workersÕ rights.
Baby Milk Action and former Nestlé employee Syed Aamar Raza, were
invited to give a presentation in April, just before NestléÕs
Vice President, Niels Christiansen, Nestlé (UK) Chief Executive,
Peter Blackburn and other Nestlé staff.
The proceedings of
ETI meetings are confidential but it seems that Nestlé will not
be joining ETI at this time.
pulls its Junior foods
criticism from health advocates, (see Update
26 and Boycott News 26) and "disappointing
sales" Nestlé has decided to stop selling its new
Junior foods in the UK. The foods contained the known allergen,
sesame, and the sugar content of the Fruit Bar was over 50% -
a higher percentage than Kitkat.
Nestlé says it will
honour its contractual obligations to the playgroup network, TumbleTots
(TTs) which entered a sponsorship deal to promote Junior foods.
Baby Milk Action met TT staff to discuss our concerns.
Baby Milk Action has
strong links with trade unions such as UNISON and MSF, which support
the boycott. Area Contact, Jane Putsey, was recently invited to
present our case at several meetings of the PCS union, including
NIPSA (Northern Ireland
Public Servants Alliance) held a meeting on the impact of globalisation
in April and Campaigns Coordinator, Mike Brady ran a workshop
on lessons learned from the baby milk campaign.
If you would like to
involve your union more in supporting the campaign, contact
us for information and materials or to arrange a speaker.
traders say no to Nestlé
Nestlé attempted to
sponsor a world street theatre event taking place on 12th and
13th May at the Brighton Festival. For its £2,000 outlay Nestlé
required its advertising banners to be suspended over the streets
for the whole of May, June and July.
The North Lane Traders
Association canvassed its members and the plans were defeated
by 51% to 31%.
Stadium deal blasted
of the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff and the Welsh Rugby Union
generated a national debate on Nestlé's baby food marketing malpractice.
Glenys Kinnock, a Member
of the European Parliament for South Wales, publicly condemned
the deal, telling the Western
Mail (15th Feb 2000): "There are a lot of young men in
the team with young children. I am absolutely shocked at the announcement.
I would like them to reconsider their position. Maybe they are
not aware of the kind of opposition there is in Wales to this."
Rugby supporters were
surveyed by an Internet
magazine and over 50% said the deal should not have gone ahead.
Aquaid, Cardiff Univeristy
Students' Union and Ann Miller's Speciality Mushrooms have recently
endorsed the boycott.