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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Nestl� Brazil Union Beats Back Attack on New Retirees' Medical Care

Posted to the IUF website 23-Apr-2009

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Swift action by the IUF-affiliated Federation of Food Industry Workers of S�o Paulo (FETIASP) has beaten back an attempt by Nestl� Brazil to make new retirees pay for global cost-cutting through reduced medical benefits.

Currently, medical coverage for all retired Nestl� Brazil employees includes health care services and the cost of medicines. In late March, Nestl� management - without consulting the union - began pressuring workers with more than 25 years at the company to retire immediately or forfeit medicine coverage benefits once they retired. According to union president Melqu�ades de Ara�jo, who called the move "extortion", "The union responded by asking all Nestl� workers in the country not to sign any document forcing them to retire (although many had already done so). We then called an urgent meeting with Nestl� to demand an explanation. Nestl�'s explanation was that it had to begin 'cutting back or limiting expenses' in response to the global financial crisis."

According to de Ara�jo "There are currently 1,500 retired Nestl� workers and some 150 workers with more than 25 years in the company who are still active in factories around the country. Cutting payment for medicine for these 150 wouldn�t go very far towards cutting expenses, but for these workers it would have been a cruel blow."

The benefit cuts were suspended - and the agreement declared void any document workers might have signed. "Just in case", says de Ara�jo, "we advised all union members who really wish to retire to come first to the union. We�ve had no cases to date."