Food giant Nestlé increasingly promotes itself as a ‘wellness’ company’. The current state of respect for the rights of its employees however, is anything but well.
On May 14 all Nestlé Russia sales force employees – some 300 workers – were invited to the company’s regional centers in 10 cities across Russia under the pretext of “discussing business results”. The doors of the halls, containing all the gathered employees, were closed and security guards were posted at the exits. Employees were told to sign a notice of staff reduction or resign immediately “by agreement of the parties”. They were not allowed to leave the room – even to visit the toilet – until signing. Phone calls, messaging and photos were prohibited. An emergency ambulance was in constant attendance at the entrance of each center.
Among those dismissed were employees supporting large families, pregnant women, young parents, disabled employees, employees that have children with disabilities and an oncology patient – all of whom have legal protections against dismissal.
Since November 2018, the Sales Force Employees’ Union – a member of the IUF-affiliated AIWUR – had attempted to engage Nestlé management following rumors of imminent restructuring. Managers refused negotiations and claimed that no sales force staff reductions were planned.
The union, with the support of the IUF, is demanding that the company immediately and unconditionally cancel all actions carried out in connection with the restructuring, which rests on forced resignations. Signatures obtained under duress must be considered null and void and the company must issue a formal apology and enter into good faith bargaining with the union.
Union members have been picketing and demonstrating at Nestlé offices and facilities across Russia. Talks between the union and management in Russia have failed to resolve the basic issues.
Union picket outside Nestlé Russia Moscow headquarters
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