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Trade unionists protest in the Philippines and Japan as Nestlé wines and dines at the TUC

Press release 13 September 2006.

Nestlé hosted a reception at the UK Trade Union Congress on Sunday (10 September) with the GMB trade union while in the Philippines trade unionists were organising a day of action (to take place today) over Nestlé's refusal to abide by court rulings on workers' rights. In the Philippines they will shortly be mourning the first anniversary of the death of their assassinated leader, Diosdado Fortuna.

(click here for the trade union's press release - click here for a past interview with campaigners - click here for the International Federation of Food Workers report on the assassination).

Nestlé was barred from having a stall at the TUC in 2003 because of protests by unions such as UNISON over its record of aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes, but unions representing UK workers have campaigned on the company's behalf (click here).

Today Japanese trade unionists have issued an update on their four-year battle to compel Nestlé to respect a court order to reinstate unfairly dismissed workers, which has been widely reported in the media there.

The oral procedures have just come to an end and the written ruling the union says will 'convict Nestlé' is expected on 9 October. Details below.

Japanese newspaper
Nestlé's courting of UK unions follows its refusal in October 2005 to attend a public tribunal in Switzerland where representatives of the Colombian Food Workers' Union (Sinaltrainal) presented evidence of forced resignations and targeting of activists by paramilitaries after they have been denounced as enemies of the company and other activities such as illegally repackaging expired milk and polluting water supplies.
Colombian tribunalSinaltrainal's lawyer presented documents and called witnesses to make submissions to the tribunal. Click here for a hi-res version.

Ten Nestlé workers have been assassinated in recent years.

Click here for the tribunal ruling.


Colombian banner

Some of the trade union activists working for Nestlé who have been killed (Hector Daniel Useche, Victor Eloy Mieles, Luciano Romero). Ten leaders connected to Nestlé's Cicolac company have been assassinated to date. Click here for larger version for printing.


Nestlé will be present at the Labour Party Conference sponsoring a fringe meeting organised by the Christian Socialist Movement. The meeting will take place on 25 September, three days after the anniversary of Diosdado Fortuna's assassination by an unknown gun man in the Philippines. Baby Milk Action plans to post an interview with trade union representatives on its website prior to the CSM/Nestlé meeting and will be attending the meeting to raise concerns about Nestlé malpractice.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"It is always depressing when people who should be our natural allies work to promote Nestlé. Nestlé is desparate to link with organisations to improve its appalling image and divert criticism of its malpractice. Fortunately many trade unions and trade unionists are supporting the boycott of Nestlé over its aggressive marketing of baby foods.

"I always understood trade unionism to be about worker solidarity and find it hard to understand why some at the TUC are sipping wine with Nestlé executives while Nestlé workers elsewhere are protesting against unlawful practices. I encourage everyone to also look at Nestlé's record of human rights abuses, the way it refuses to recognise legitimate union claims in various countries and its exploitation of coffee, dairy and other suppliers."

For further information contact Tel: 01223 464420 Mobile: 07986 736179.

Notes for editors

  1. Nestlé is the target of the boycott as independent monitoring finds it is responsible for more violations the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions than any other company.

  2. Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit organisation and the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). It is funded by membership fees, merchandise sales and donations, along with grants from development organisations and charitable trusts.

  3. The boycott of Nestlé focuses on Nescafé, its flagship product, but Baby Milk Action lists the brands from which Nestlé profits so boycott supporters can avoid them all. Guardian reported on 1 September 2005: "What do Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's and Nestlé have in common? Apart from being among the world's most well-known brands, they happen to be the most boycotted brands on the planet. That finding came from this week's global GMIPoll, an online opinion poll that surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries. Nestlé emerges as the most the most boycotted brand in the UK because of what respondents consider its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries."

  4. Nestlé won a global internet poll for the world's 'least responsible company' coinciding with the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. Nestlé received 29% of the votes. This was more than twice that of joint second Monsanto and Dow Chemicals (of Bhopal infamy), each on 14% ( click here for details ).

  5. For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website. The Corporate Watch website has a detailed report on Nestlé.

  6. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. See the Your Questions Answered section.

  7. Nestlé Japan Labour Union reports: October, 2002 Court orders Nestlé to withdraw workers' dismissal. A Court on October 11 ordered Swiss-based multinational food maker Nestlé's Japanese subsidiary to revoke the disciplinary dismissal of two union members and give them backpay. Nestlé Japan was claiming at the court that it discharged the two workers at the Kasumigaura plant in Ibaraki Prefecture because they assaulted a company manager in 1993. However, the Mito District Court stated that the claim is illogical because it took the company 8 years to fire them since the "incident" happened. Plaintiff Tomita Shin'ichi, secretary of the Nestlé Japan Labor Union NJLU Kasumigaura Branch, said, "Since I was disgraced and fired, my family also had to struggle. But finally the court supported the workers' allegation that the company had used a frame-up." Saito Katsuichi, NJLU vice-chair, stated that the union has an important role to play to make Nestlé fulfill its social responsibility at a time when lack of morality at food companies is a major social problem. June, 2003 Labor commission orders Nestlé's Japan to revoke dismissal of workers A local labor relations commission recognized disciplinary dismissal of union members by the Nestlé Japan Holding Ltd., a branch of the Swiss multinational corporation, as an unfair labor practice and ordered the company to reinstate the workers. The Ibaraki Prefectural Labor Relations Commission on June 26 issued a relief order to Nestlé stating that the company's claim and evidence fail to prove violent acts by the workers. The commission ordered the company to restore them to their former positions and pay them wages they were supposed to receive during their absence from the office. In 2001, Nestlé dismissed two members of the Nestlé Japan Labor Union claiming that they assaulted their managers during the union's protest. Insisting that they did not commit such violence, those unionized workers brought the case to the Ibaraki Labor Relations Commission.
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