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Statement from TransFair Italy

Following the article published on "The Guardian" ( the 21st of September and the position of Fairtrade Foundation published in the website of this association (, we would like to communicate that the position of Fairtrade TransFair Italy is:

  • FairtradeTransFair Italy believes that it is possible to develop the Fairtrade market through the involvement of companies which work in the international markets

  • FairtradeTransFair Italy believes that this development should not involve companies which are under international boycott campaigns, as the ones regarding Nestlè. In fact, if from one side these companies would support some disadvantaged producers in LDC, on the other side they will continue to act on an ethically incorrect way.

  • FairtradeTransFair Italy will not grant the use of the Fairtrade Label in the italian market in case Nestlé asks for it.

  • FairtradeTransFair Italy will continue to support this position in the FLO system and it will lobby Fairtrade Foundation asking to review their policy about this issue.


Fair Trade, nowadays, is not reducible to a generic call for solidarity, but it finds its substantial significance in the analysis of the economical and social inequalities characterizing all the World areas, both in the North and in the South.

Fair Trade aims to discover the primary causes of such inequalities, and to eradicate them by acting at a political, economical and social level.

For this kind of action to be effective, Fair Trade organisations, far from being focused just on their own internal processes, need to be deeply aware of the requirements of a society which is constantly changing.

More and more consumers base their choices upon ethical considerations, more and more enterprises adopt a social and environmental responsible behaviour, and more and more political institutions support activities socially and environmentally sustainable.

This constitutes the framework where Fair Trade has to operate and where it finds its interlocutors.

In this framework, Fair Trade has the responsibility and the resources of inducing responsible and ethical behaviour in the commercial enterprises.

Nevertheless, Fair Trade also needs to face the increase of economical inequalities, social problems and environmental exploitation.

Fair Trade has to face the attitude of the great part of the enterprises of pursuing profits without rules and limits, whereas people and environment are considered just as resources to exploit if need be, the communities of people as markets to conquer independently from the consequences, the trade unions as old relics of the past.

Communication, marketing, social consensus.

As in a big market, the great business corporations spend a fortune in marketing researches and to study and communicate the image of an organisation whose profits are coherent with an attention to social and environmental sustainability.

The real world where we live is not Wonderland, but the concrete land of business and of personal interest, where terms such as “ethics”, “justice” “solidarity” are effective picklocks to reach the hearts of the people, and, thus, their purses.

If this is true, it follows that certifying a coffee of the multinational Nestlè as a Fairly Traded product has enormous contradictions, and it strongly seems nothing more than a victory of the marketing policy of Nestlè, and not a concrete and real change of attitude.

Indeed, according to the annual report of ICFTU, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions:

In April 2003, in El Salvador , Nestlè closed a factory and refused to negotiate the terms and conditions of the closure with the local trade union, SETNESSA (Sindicato de Empresa de Trabajadores Nestlé S.A.). Just thanks to an International Campaign of Solidarity the Workers of the Nestlè factory in El Salvador could obtain conditions respectful of their rights.

In Korea , in 2003, Nestlè has been accused by the Commission for the Trade Unions relations of Chungbook. The Commission claimed that Nestlé “has carried on every kind of intimidations and interferences” during the debate with the local trade union, Nestlé Korea Labour Union. The debate was originated by the decision of Nestlè of moving 44 workers in another sector of production, which was a prelude to the dismission.

The very same behaviour has been denounced in Colombia by the Trade Union Sinaltrainal during the years 2003-2005 , and in the Philippines by the Union of Filipino Employees-Drug and Food Alliance (UFE-DFA), the Trade Union of the workers in the Nestlè factory in Cabuyao, Laguna.

All the episodes suggest an high level of tension between the Swiss multinational and the Trade Unions about the rights of the workers.

The 14 th July 2005 , the International Labour Rights Fund denounced at the federal Court of Los Angeles three multinationals that import Cocoa from Ivory Coast , the most important Cocoa producer, accusing them of traffic of children, tortures and hard labour.

The three multinationals are Nestlé, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) e Cargill.

The class action has been started by “Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis” ( Alabama ), on behalf of three children, symbolically representing all the children in Mali who has been involved since 1996, whose number is nowadays estimated in thousands.

Nestlè, together with other multinationals operating in the same field, has been accused from several years to violate the international code WHO/Unicef regarding the trading of the substitutes of the maternal milk.

Despite the Code forbids it, Nestlè promotes its products mainly through the medical system and the medical operators of different countries, by supplying them for free, and by incentives to prescribe them and to diffuse misleading informative material about babies food.

WHO and Unicef has been denouncing for years the wrong use of the substitutes of the maternal milk, indicating it as the cause of the deaths of many children in the countries of the south of the world.

According to Dijbril Diallo, special consultant of Unicef: -Nestlé names “helps” these unfair marketing practices.

As for Fair Trade coffee, Nestlè maintains that “….” (Nestlé, November 2003).

That is to say that Fair Trade is a good practice as long as it doesn't try to increase the prices due to the producers.

As Italian Fair Trade organisations, we strongly believe that the behaviour of Nestlè towards workers rights, its persistent violation of WHO code and its declarations about Fair Trade make improper the Fair Trade certification given to a Nestlè coffee by Fair Trade Foundation UK .

Thus, we ask:

  • To all the organisations in Europe and in the World that certify Fair Trade products to prevent the Fair Trade certification of Nestlè coffee;

  • To all the organisations of the civil society in Europe and in the World to ask to Fair Labelling Organization (FLO) to open a discussion about the criteria adopted to certify the products of the multinational corporations;

  • To all the international organisations of the civil society and to the social movements to support the initiatives proposed by the network Ibfan;

  • To the Supermarket chains, especially those having the SA8000 certification, to ask their suppliers for their conduct in the fields of workers rights, respect of the international rules and of the environment.

Agices (Associazione Generale Italiana Commercio Equo e Solidale)
Associazione Botteghe del Mondo Italia
Fairtrade TransFair Italia