Anti-Nestlé union leader shot dead in Phillipines
Diosdada Fortuna, the fifty-year-old leader of striking workers at the Calamba City Nestlé factory, was murdered last week on his way home from the picket lines. Since 2002, Fortuna had been leading 660 Nestlé employees in a struggle for better working conditions. He assumed the job after his predecessor Meliton Roxas was assassinated at the gates of the Nestlé factory in 1988. Many are laying responsibility for Fortuna’s death at the feet of the national government and the Nestlé corporation. The national government, led by Gloria Arroyo, has a vested interest in breaking unions in order to keep foreign investment in the country. Even if Nestlé was not directly involved, by maintaining their operations in the Phillipines despite the assassinations, the corporation has benifited from and tacitly endorsed this violence. As Fortuna’s widow pointed out, “My husband [had] no other enemy than Nestlé management.”
Nestlé’s labour practices to face public inquiry
The Swiss NGO Multiwatch will be holding a public forum and inquiry into Nestlé’s labour practices in Berne on October 29. The organization will be focusing on the corporation’s reprehensible tactics in Columbia, where Nestlé factory workers who have attempted to unionize have been attacked and killed by paramilitary groups. Nestlé’s willingness to continue to use the factories is clearly an endorsement of this violence, and some say the company is directly responsible for the deaths. As the paramilitary groups act without reprimand from the Columbian government, an international forum such as Multiwatch’s is the only thing approaching justice available to the suffering workers.
Nestlé “Fair Trade”not so fair
The Fairtrade foundation is a world renowned NGO which aims to ensure that food producers in the majority world receive a fair price for their goods. They do so by awarding companies which pay their suppliers fair prices with a special Fair Trade certification. As more and more consumers try to shop ethically, there is great incentive for companies to obtain the Fair Trade mark.
Nestlé UK has now launched a brand of coffee which has been endorsed by the Fairtrade Foundation. But there is no indication that the company plans to start paying farmers fair prices for the other 8 500 brands it already sells, and unfortunately it appears that Nestlé’s efforts to become Fair Trade certified are little more than a public relations move. Given the company’s widely documented malpractice, not only in the marketing of its baby food products, but in its attempts to disrupt organized labour and its disregard for the environment, many activists are warning that awarding a Nestlé product the Fair Trade mark is grossly misleading to the public. Such a decision infers to consumers that the company is an ethical one, despite the fact that it was recently voted the world’s least ethical corporation in a global internet poll. Some go as far as to say that endorsing a Nestlé product has devalued the Fair Trade mark and rendered it obsolete.
For reaction from the British IBFAN group, Babymilk Action, visit: