a conciliation session on Wednesday January 17 Nestlé management
adamantly refused to meet the union’s demand for moving Nestlé
employees' wages at least close to where the poverty line is.
The Poverty Wage Line in
Fiji was defined as F$3.50 an hour several years ago, a figure that
did not even take into account the cost of having a roof over the head.
Even so, management
simply refused to increase wages beyond F$2.70 an hour effective from
January 1, 2007.
This is unacceptable
to the workers on two counts: the hourly rate is too far below the
poverty line and the retrospective effect date ignores the date
when the union has the right to begin bargaining i.e. August 2005.
By refusing to agree to a legitimate effectivity date, the management
can endlessly delay negotiation.
On its part, the
workers reduced their original demand from F$3.50 an hour to F$3.20
an hour in an effort to reach agreement but insisted that this should
be effective from August 2005 i.e. when their union, the IUF-affiliated
Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union (FSGWU) secured recognition for
collective bargaining. It is recalled that management had maneuvered
hard to prevent union recognition prior to that.
management intransigence led workers at the Nestlé factory
to vote overwhelmingly to take industrial action in September 2006.
Management's measly offers would still leave workers far below the
In October 2006, IUF-affiliated
unions representing Nestlé workers in the region wrote to Nestlé
headquarters in Switzerland voicing their dissatisfaction with sub-poverty
line wage rates, protesting at the failure of management to bargain
in good faith and stating their solidarity with workers in Fiji.
Since that time
Nestlé management have continued to stonewall.
At the end of
an inconclusive conciliation session mediated by the Department
of Labour on January 17, the union asked to go before Arbitration
and a date will be determined soon.
arbitration reluctantly, the management have launched a campaign of
subtle intimidation at the plant by trying to divide workers and pressure
them to accept below poverty line wages. (Watch this space for more
news about this.)
is the largest food TNC in the world with annual income of over
US$70 billion (by comparison Fiji's Gross Nation Income is US$2.4
billion and New Zealand's is US$81.2 billion). While the company
has announced record profits, it seems the company feels no need
to pay workers fair wages.
This is shameful
to say the least.
management need reminding that according to para 34 of the ILO’s
Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social
Companies operating in developing countries should provide the best
possible wages, benefits and conditions of work … at least adequate
to satisfy basic needs of workers and their families."?
Unions Back Nestlé Fiji Workers Fighting Poverty Wages
Workers Vote for Industrial Action as Nestlé Insists on Poverty
Keeps Fijian Nestlé Workers On Poverty Line Wages As Global Super-Profits