Protests by union members at Nestlé Malaysia, represented by the IUF-affiliated Food Industry Employees Union (FIEU), are continuing as management refuses to engage in good faith wage negotiations. Abandoning any commitment to bilateral collective bargaining negotiations, Nestlé Malaysia informed FIEU that they will simply let the Industrial Court decide.
Union worksite committees at six factories and one distribution center have held protests over the past two months to denounce the failure of the company to respect and reward their members’ hard work as essential workers in the pandemic.
After delaying wage negotiations until the height of the pandemic, management gave an ultimatum for the three-year wage increment. Although it is clearly understood to be a retroactive agreement (based on revenue and performance in 2017, 2018 and 2019) the company is using the 2020 crisis to drastically reduce the wage increment. This is in contrast to other transnational confectionery and food processing companies in Malaysia that reached agreements with FIEU that recognize and reward workers.
In a press release issued on August 25, 2020, Nestlé Malaysia reassured financial markets that, “Our financial performance remained solid in absolute terms”, claiming that business has been “resilient” throughout the pandemic. Yet this does not translate into fair wage increases for Nestlé Malaysia workers. Instead, the company is claiming it has no budget for wage increases and is in serious financial difficulty. This a very different message than the message to shareholders, financial markets and consumers.