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Dominican Republic

With Rafael “Pepe” Abreu

Nestle plant closure while
workers are the last to know


Rafael “Pepe” Abreu is the Executive Vice President of the Union Confederation (CNUS), he found out that Nestle is closing a plant in the Dominican Republic when he was taking other steps at the Labor Department, and he raised the warning voice.


Pepe has a long standing union background, he has known Rel-UITA from previous actions in Nestle conflicts and he is outraged by observing this powerful transnational corporation surreptitiously closing its doors without consideration for the social cost and with no responsibility for its 136 workers.


-What is the information you have about the Nestle Ice Cream Plant?

-A few days ago there was a rumor that the ice cream plant was considering a possible closure and relocation, supposedly on the grounds that this plant of the Dominican Republic is not profitable.  Nestle has a history of relocations from one country to the other, closures and crises, and Rel-UITA has taken action in some cases. For instance, last year there was a case of some layoffs and Rel-UITA had to intervene.

Now, we are facing a disloyal and controversial attitude of this company:  a closing process almost concluded, the Labor Department notified, while the union has not been even formally informed.

I was taking some steps in connection with another union dispute, and I came accross the information that Nestle has already begun a procedure to lay off 136 workers at the plant, where –perhaps- at the company discretion, those who live near San Cristobal could be relocated at a plant where Nestle manufactures some other products.


-What was your reaction?

-I immediately reported the situation to the Rel-UITA, through Bernabel Matos, and also the president of the Food Federation (FENTIAHBETA), Flaudio Tapia. This procedure is not acceptable, and it should not be tolerated by the Labor Department.  Since management did not inform the union, this Department should do so.


-What was the union reaction?

-The union will approach the management in order to raise the issue, tell management they found out, suggest proposals so that not necessarily all workers end up laid off and the union eventually destroyed.

Also, if negotiation with the management does not lead to a successful outcome, the issue needs to be submitted to the Labor Department in order to find a solution. This way of acting upon fait accompli, with severance packages and no negotiation, not considering the resulting loss of employment, and simply paying a compensation is not enough, it leads to the loss of work positions and to union destruction.

If nothing can be done to stop the closure, it is necessary to find solutions, for instance to replace outsourced workers of other plants with those of this plant, attempt a negotiation to somehow save employment..


-What is your assessment of these facts?

-I consider this very alarming.  There is a collective bargaining agreement signed and a commitment towards workers, as well as legal protection for the union. The company shoud have convened the union and discussed this issue, particularly at a time when the Dominican Republic is experiencing such a difficult time --like many other countries—and with the worrying rise of food and fuel prices, a company like Nestle, with large profits is about to close. This is unacceptable and irresponsible!


- Would you like to make any additional comment?

-I considered very important to make this situation known to our brothers and sisters and also raise a warning voice at the international level. Rel-UITA and the IUF have the role of helping arouse the interest of workers of the food sector and the workers of other countries and regions, while in the Dominican Republic we are confident in this role, which must be accompanied by the search of solutions at the local level, already commenced with the initiative of asking for an urgent meeting.



June 19, 2008





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