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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Nestl�: Successful Union Mobilisation in Spain

Posted to the IUF website 21-Jun-2006

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On 20 June, Nestl� workers throughout Spain took part in work stoppages to demand guarantees for workers who will be transferred to a new joint venture company, Lactalis Nestl� Chilled Dairy.

This company is to be created through the merger of Nestl�'s European chilled dairy business (yoghurt and dairy desserts) and the corresponding business division of the France-based dairy company Lactalis. The assets and brands of the two companies will be combined into the joint venture, in which Lactalis will hold the majority stake of 60%, while Nestl� will hold a 40% stake.

Through their unions, the approximately 2,000 Nestl� workers affected by this business decision have been demanding guarantees concerning the continuity of conditions of work, union representation rights, pension benefits and a redundancy package underwritten by Nestl� in the event the new company fails. Nestl� has expressed the view that it is not in a position to provide guarantees which would impose commitments on the new company.

In Spain, workers organised by the UGT and CC.OO. unions assembled for 5-minute work stoppages not only at the sites affected by the transfer, but at Nestl� facilities throughout the country. A statement, drafted by the IUF, was read at these assemblies.

The launch of the joint venture undertaking, first announced in December 2005, has been postponed twice and Nestl� and Lactalis are currently awaiting the recommendation of the European Commission for Competition. On 9 June, the Nestl� European Works Council addressed a letter to the Commissioner for Competition, highlighting the social issues which must be addressed and pointing out that while Nestl� has secured an agreement with Lactalis on the use of its brands, it has repeatedly refused to consider an agreement to safeguard the rights of those who produce the brands.

The Commission is expected to deliver its decision by 12 July. The Spanish unions do not rule out further actions aimed at pressuring Nestl� to respond to their demands.