Russia: Unions call for reinstatement of 300 Nestlé employees after alleged forced resignations; Incl. Nestlé's response
On 14 May 2019, around 300 Nestlé Russia sales force employees were allegedly forced to resign as part of a restructure, after they were invited to the company's regional centres in 10 cities across Russia under the pretext of discussing "business results". According to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) - who is supporting the Sales Force Employee's Union - when the workers arrived, the doors of the halls were closed with security at the exits, and that they were told to sign a notice of staff reduction or resign immediately. They were also not allowed to leave until they had signed the contract, with phone calls, messaging and photos prohibited.
Since November 2018, the Sales Force Employees' Union had attempted to engage Nestlé management following rumours of restructuring, but management allegedly refused negotiations and claimed no reductions were planned.
Union members have been protesting at Nestlé offices across Russia, calling for the reinstatement of those workers forced to resign as part of the restructure and for the company to issue a formal apology and enter into good faith bargaining with the union.
In July 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Nestlé to respond. Nestlé responded that it had informed workers about the changes in its organisational structure and in cases of redundancy employees were given the opportunity to opt for standard reduction conditions as stipulated by the Russian Labour Code or the option to terminate their contracts under more beneficial conditions. It said that most employees affected by the changes have been offered, and have accepted, positions by distributors. The full response is included below.
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"Nestlé Russia union leaders targeted for early dismissal", 9 August 2019
The President and Vice-President of the Sales Force Workers Union...have both been laid off in the massive restructuring of Nestlé Russia's sales force. Both are based in the Bryansk facility. This is the only facility to be closed - and its closure took place one month ahead of the other restructuring measures.
Despite multiple calls by the IUF and the union to Nestlé corporate management and Nestlé Russia to immediately and unconditionally cancel all dismissals implemented under duress in connection with the restructuring, Russian management moved ahead with the closure of its Bryansk facility on July 31, 2019.
The IUF believes that this closure targets the union's leadership and is seeking urgent action from Nestlé to protect union representatives as required by both Russian law and international standards.
Nestlé Russia has evolved its sales organization structure based on the development of the Russian retail market...In line with the Russian Labor Code, we have duly informed employees about the upcoming changes. In case of redundancy, employees were given the opportunity to opt for the standard reduction conditions as stipulated by the Labor Code. We also offered employees to terminate their labor contracts under more beneficial conditions than those stipulated under the Russian Labor Code. Most employees affected by these changes have been offered, and have accepted, positions by distributors.
- Related stories: Russia: Unions call for reinstatement of 300 Nestlé employees after alleged forced resignations; Incl. Nestlé's response
- This is a response from the following companies: Nestlé
Author: The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF)
"Nestlé sales force workers across Russia confined to rooms and compelled to resign employment," 10 July 2019
...On May 14 all Nestlé Russia sales force employees...were invited to the company's regional centers in 10 cities across Russia under the pretext of "discussing business results".
The doors of the halls...were closed and security guards were posted at the exits. Employees were told to sign a notice of staff reduction or resign immediately "by agreement of the parties". They were not allowed to leave the room...until signing. Phone calls, messaging and photos were prohibited. An emergency ambulance was in constant attendance at the entrance of each center...
...The [Sales Force Employees' Union]...is demanding that the company immediately and unconditionally cancel all actions carried out in connection with the restructuring, which rests on forced resignations. Signatures...must be considered null and void and the company must issue a formal apology and enter into...bargaining with the union...