There's Blood in Your Coffee

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Behind Nestlé ad blitz

LETTER TO THE EDITOR28 February 2007
Behind Nestlé ad blitz
Media such as print, radio, and television continues to be bombarded by Nestlé commercial advertisements, featuring big names in Philippine show business. Vilma Santos, Cesar Montano, Tweety de Leon, Margie Barretto, Ruffa Gutierrez, Ai-Ai delas Alas, and Kris Aquino are only some of the highly-paid personalities promoting the values-oriented “Choose Wellness, Choose Nestlé” commercial aphorism.

What the public does not know (or what might have been kept from their knowledge), the Swiss-owned multinational company covers up its most atrocious acts against its workers and scoffs at the Supreme Court (SC) decision by way of conditioning the public with the hypocritical “choose wellness” ad. Nestlé promotes a culture of deception while denying justice to its workers for more than five years now.
The Nestlé Cabuyao workers in Laguna, Philippines went to strike on January 14, 2002 when the company used as pre-condition in the collective bargaining negotiations the non-inclusion of the workers’ Retirement Benefits. Despite the sacrifices perceived by the workers, the legitimate strike is backed by the 1991 SC decision affirming the NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission) decision that the Retirement Benefits is a legitimate collective bargaining agreement (CBA) issue.

Unfortunately, the workers’ picketline which was supposed to barricade the company gates was often destroyed by the management’s brutal rampage. Company guards, goons, police and military are garrisoned within and outside the gates.
The campaign “There’s Blood in Your Coffee, Boycott Nestlé” was launched by the workers as one of the leverages to air their legitimate grievance to the public and compel the Nestlé management to settle the labour dispute. It also aimed to counter the vast influence of Nestlé in media as well as its monopoly in the Philippine market.

At the start, the campaign hardly affects the company’s market reputation. However, the campaign caught popular attention and gained wide support in the local, as well as the international community, when two Nestlé unionists were murdered consecutively in September 2005. Luciano Enrique Romero Molina, a Sinaltrainal leader and Nestlé worker who was among the many workers tagged by Nestlé as persona non grata, was murdered on September 11 in Colombia. Diosdado Fortuna, Nestlé Cabuyao union president and chairman of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog-May First Movement), was murdered while on his way home from the picketline on September 22.
Many believe that the murder of the two Nestlé workers is not coincidental. The murder of Nestlé Cabuyao union president Meliton Roxas in front of the company gates during their strike in 1989 is another case to prove Nestlé’s blood debts to its workers.

The SC ruled on the labour dispute in Nestlé Cabuyao on August 22, 2006, reaffirming its 1991 decision; hence, directs the Nestlé management and union to go back to the negotiating table to pursue the CBA negotiations.
The Nestlé management persistently snubs the highest court of the land. In fact, in its statement in a news article, Nestlé claimed that the workers who tried to barricade the company gates on January 14 are no longer Nestlé workers (Niña Catherine Calleja, “Workers at multinational food firm barricade factory”, Philippine Daily Inquirer 17 January 2007: A15). Such a statement diverts the real issue and is a blatant disrespect to the latest SC decision.
The ads blitzkrieg came in time and attuned to complement the news statement after January 14.

As Nestlé lavishly spends millions in ads, we have to scrutinize well enough their many purposes, aside from the endorsement of products and conquering the market. After probably knowing the real score, we don’t have to choose wellness if it’s Nestlé. Do we?
Marlon TorresPublic Information Officer


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