Nestlé SA is a well known Swiss multinational and the world’s biggest food and drink corporation. Some of Nestlé’s business practices have been considered unethical, especially the manner in which baby formula has been marketed in developing countries (this issue has been highlighted previously by JustAct and many others).
In 2009 Nestlé SA reported their net profit at more than $10.5 billion.
Nestlé believes its actions must be good for business, and good for society. However, JustAct and many others hold strong concerns about: the corporate conduct of Nestlé in the Philippines, Nestlé marketing of infant formula in the developing world and the slowness of Nestlé to adequately take steps to ensure the cocoa they source from West Africa is free from the use of slave labour.
It is a well recognised fact that breastfeeding is the best start in life for a baby, where breastfeeding is possible. This view is held by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF and continues to be confirmed by medical research.
JustAct is concerned the marketing activities of Nestlé undermine breastfeeding rates and the effectiveness of money spent by governments, including donor countries such as Australia, to promote breastfeeding.
Nestlé in the Philippines
There are credible reports that the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment and Nestlé Philippines have used unethical tactics in a serious labour dispute at their Cabuyao Plant in the Philippines. Alleged tactics to subdue striking employees from this plant have ranged from issuing of “return to work” orders, to forceful confrontations with hired Nestlé private security personnel, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
JustAct believes Nestlé Philippines should reinstate its striking employees at the Cabuyao plant and negotiate in good faith on a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Furthermore, employees and ex-employees from the Nestlé Cabuyao Plant should receive full retirement benefits. Justice should be rendered to all people involved in this dispute.
Thousands of children have been trafficked onto cocoa plantations in the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire (aka Ivory Coast). The 2000 US State Department Human Rights report stated, “It is estimated that some 15,000 Malian children work on Ivorian cocoa and coffee plantations. Many are under 12 years-of-age, sold into indentured servitude for US$140, and work 12-hour days for US$135 to US$189 per year”.
On the positive side Nestle has introduced a four-finger Kit-Kat in the UK market that uses Fairtrade certified cocoa and have recently started using UTZ certified cocoa in their four-finger Kit-kat in Australia. Fairtrade and UTZ are credible systems ensuring cocoa is produced under standards that prohibit child labour through their certification and labelling system.
These changes are a great step towards ensuring the cocoa in the chocolate we eat has not been produced by children or people who have been trafficked. JustAct would like to see Nestle expand independent certification across all their chocolate products.
JustAct ‘Marketing that kills’ action here
Nestle in the Philippines
See the STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia website for further info on trafficking and child labour in cocoa here