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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide


Strike at Nestlé Waters in Germany

Posted to the IUF website 16-May-2007

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Workers at Neuselters Mineralquelle (mineral springs), in the state of Hessen, where water is bottled under the Neuselters and Aquarel brands, went on strike May 15 in response to Nestlé's refusal to engage in serious collective bargaining with their union, the German food and allied workers union NGG.

The strike ballot, which took place the day before, was supported by 96.6% of NGG's members in the plant.

The strike began at 4:00 a.m. on May 15 when night shift workers shut down the production lines and workers arriving for the morning shift remained outside the gates. Since October 1, 2006, when Nestlé Waters Germany revoked recognition of the sector-wide framework agreement, workers at Neuselters and the NGG, have engaged in various forms of industrial action, including walk-outs in January and April, to underline their opposition to Nestlé's attempt at undermining existing agreements.

Throughout its operations in Germany, Nestlé has been on the attack against hard-fought collective bargaining gains. The tactics employed include withdrawing from membership in the relevant employers association, switching affiliation to an association which applies collective agreements with poorer conditions, remaining in the employers association but declaring that the relevant agreement no longer applies to them (as in this case), and threatening closure if their demands for concessions are not met.

What Nestlé wants at Neuselters is an enterprise agreement with poorer provisions - in particular on working time - than those contained in the framework agreement. NGG is demanding that Nestlé apply the framework agreement and the wage increase that has been obtained in state-level bargaining for mineral springs workers.

Nestlé has indicated it wants "flexibility" in working hours, but continues to refuse to put forward concrete demands. The NGG negotiating committee has declared a deadlock, as it has become clear from Nestlé's behaviour at the bargaining table that they not interested in serious negotiations.

What you can do


Send a fax to Nestlé Waters Germany (+49 6131 250 04 30) expressing concern over the breakdown in negotiations and urging that they return to the bargaining table with the intention of engaging in serious negotiations with the NGG.

Solidarity messages go a long way in giving the striking workers the support they need to carry on the fight. Please send messages to the NGG at [email protected] with a copy to the IUF secretariat at [email protected]

Unions in Europe with membership at Nestlé Waters - in particular where Aquarel-branded water is bottled - have been put on guard to the possibility that Nestlé will seek to compensate production shortfalls in Germany from other plants.