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Nestlé (Again) Refuses to Negotiate Wages, Attacks Basic Rights - This Time in Indonesia

Posted to the IUF website 10-Sep-2008

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On September 8, the union at the Nescafé factory in Panjang in Indonesia held a public protest in front of the provincial parliament in Lampung. They intend to continue with public demonstrations until their rights are respected.

The IUF-affiliated Nestlé Indonesia Panjang Workers Union (SBNI-P) has been struggling to negotiate a new collective agreement since late 2007. Rather than negotiate, Nestlé management has attempted to intimidate the union leadership and challenge the union's legitimacy. In December of last year, the company unsuccessfully tried to create a "negotiating team" designed to replace the union.

Following IUF intervention at the time, the more flagrant abuses ceased. But the Panjang Nescafé workers are still without a new collective agreement as Nestlé continues to refuse to bargain in good faith with the SBNI-P.

As in the case of the KitKat factory in Perm in Russia (> click here for story), Nestlé has refused to negotiate over wages, claiming that setting wage levels is a prerogative of the employer. As it did at Perm, until forced to back down, management has refused to disclose the wage scales it intends to apply, citing "commercial secrecy".

As in the case of Perm, the IUF has reminded Nestlé headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, that the refusal to negotiate over wages and the refusal to provide information needed for meaningful negotiations are in violation of ILO Conventions and puts Nestlé once again in violation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. And, as in the support campaign for the Russian Nestlé union, the IUF will be mobilizing on this issue until trade union rights at the Panjang plant are fully respected.

The dispute over collective bargaining rights at Nestlé Russia, which started in December 2007, ended in union victory in June 2008 with Nestlé agreeing to formally recognize the union's fundamental right to negotiate wages (> details here).