Unions bring Indonesian coffee protest to the streets of London

By staff writers
13 Oct 2010

UK and international trade unionists are protesting outside the Nespresso Café in London's Knightsbridge today (Wednesday 13 October 2010) as part of a global campaign targetting the multinational company.

The demonstration revolves around widespread concerns over the treatment of Indonesian workers at Nestlé's Nescafé factory in Panjang.

Protesters from the TUC (Trades Union Congress) and the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) will be handing out Stop Nespressure postcards to customers popping in to the Nespresso Boutique in Beauchamp Place for their morning coffee.

The London demonstration features the Stop Nespressure banner which has already been seen on the streets of Johannesburg, Moscow and Sydney.

The protest has been prompted following complaints to the IUF in Indonesia that, despite Nestlé's booming profits, the company's employees have been waiting three years for factory managers to sit down with the union and negotiate over paying the workforce decent wages.

As a result, union members who have dared to demand a wage increase have been harassed, transferred to other workplaces and placed under video surveillance. Until now Nestlé has been refusing to negotiate with the union, the SBNIP, claiming that wage levels are a 'commercial secret'.

Nestlé has now said it may be prepared to negotiate with the workers' union but only if a staff association under the control of the factory management also takes part in the discussions.

In an attempt to embarrass Nestlé into granting wage justice to its employees in Indonesia, union members have been demonstrating against the company around the globe.

In London protesters will be handing Nespresso Boutique customers Stop Nespressure postcards calling on the company to stop harassing its Indonesian workforce, talk to the union and pay its employees a decent wage. The cards can be signed by customers and sent to Paul Bulcke, the Nestlé CEO, in Vevey, Switzerland.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber commented: "Multinational companies need to respond to consumer pressure to treat their workers decently."

He added: "British coffee drinkers will be alarmed when they realise the conditions under which their cuppa is produced. Nestlé needs to stop harassing unions and pay its workers a living wage."

[Ekk/3]

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