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With Lucas Suárez

Nestle spying on its workers by TV

Layoffs and union busting




SITRAINDUS is the union of workers of Industrial Surindu SA created in September, 2008. This company, owned by Nestlé, is located in the city of Guayaquil and employs 530 people who produce cookies and biscuits. Lucas Suárez, secretary general of SITRAINDUS, in this dialogue with Sirel explained the severe union busting.


- What are the problems with the company?

-Since its creation, the union has been struggling for collective bargaining like every other union. From the legal point of view, in order to have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, the union needs to organize at least 50 percent of all workers. Our union reached this number very quickly but the company began terrible union busting, using all sorts of tricks to hinder our objective. The company does not want to have a Collective Bargaining Agreement or Works Council.


- How did this company boycott the union?

- For example, every time we submit a list of members with the certainty that we had the required number, the company would include workers of other plants in the payroll, thus increasing the number required for the union. Also, more than 100 workers were fired, many of whom were union members.


- Is it legal to exaggerate the number of workers in the payroll?

- Of course not, but it was done in complicity with labor authorities. In spite of all this, in December we submitted our  charter of demands with 5 items, including the restitution of workers dismissed in 2008 and a wage increase of 15 dollars a day. We also demanded that the CCTV mounted by the company be dismantled.  No reply was received for 6 months, then, in early July, the company laid 17 workers off, 8 of which were union members. Finally, that was their reply.

Nestlé needs to understand that workers have rights which must be respected by the company.


- You mean more union busting...

- No doubt.  And we still suffer it.


- How do you see the attitude of the Ministry of Labor?

- They turn a blind eye...


- But, isn’t Ecuadorian government a popular one?

-Yes, but apparently we do not have enough support. In the Ministry of Labor there still is huge corruption. Transnational corporations are protected and they refuse to acknowledge the rights granted to workers by law. There have already been similar situations in other companies, which have been reported, but nothing happened. This is a popular government but workers lack guarantees. Our situation is desperate because we do not know when the company will take drastic decisions again. We need to stop this busting. Corporate security has been doubled.


- And is there also CCTV? To have workers on watch?

- Of course. They claim the reason is drugs, but cameras are focused on the production sector. There are check-points for workers at entrance and exit, and we are affected because we feel like criminals. Nestlé needs to understand that workers have rights that must be respected by the company.


From Montevideo, Carlos Amorín


22 July, 2009




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