Nestlé threatens Hong Kong Strikers with Disinvestment

According to the International Business Times of Hong Kong Nestlé has threatened over 100 striking workers at its headquarters in Yuen Long (New Territories) that if their strike continues, the company will not rule out withdrawal or out-sourcing production from Hong Kong.

If Nestlé were to carry out this threat, it would surely be to relocate on the Chinese Mainland, where it already operates dozens of profitable factories. It is evident that Nestlé would prefer not to have to deal with a real union capable of struggling for higher wages. As reported on 20 July on this blog, Nestlé fired a worker at its Nescafé plant in Dongguan for daring to petition for new union elections. A top Nestlé manager is also the chairman of the local “union” at the Dongguan plant.

It seems that the global giant Nestlé believes that workers are incapable of learning from each other’s experiences in other countries. Nestlé might do better to recall the consequences of its own arrogant behavior. In 2003 Nestlé tried to break a strike at its only coffee plant in Korea by threatening to close the plant and relocate to China. The unintimidated workers continued their militant strike, and together with national (FKTU)and international union federations (IUF) filed an OECD complaint (The OECD represents the major industrialized countries) in Switzerland and Korea that Nestlé’s threat expressly violated the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations. The resulting international pressure on Nestlé aided the Korean union to negotiate an excellent strike settlement.

UPDATE: Just after this article was posted, the Nestlé milk delivery workers in Hong Kong accepted a management offer for a 6.5% increase in their commission rates, and ended their strike.

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