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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Nestlé 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 São Paulo (FETIASP) has beaten back an attempt by Nestlé Brazil to make new retirees pay for global cost-cutting through reduced medical benefits.

Currently, medical coverage for all retired Nestlé Brazil employees includes health care services and the cost of medicines. In late March, Nestlé 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 Melquíades de Araújo, who called the move "extortion", "The union responded by asking all Nestlé 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 Nestlé to demand an explanation. Nestlé's explanation was that it had to begin 'cutting back or limiting expenses' in response to the global financial crisis."

According to de Araújo "There are currently 1,500 retired Nestlé 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 Araújo, "we advised all union members who really wish to retire to come first to the union. We’ve had no cases to date."