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Colombia - overview PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Experts on Nestlé Colombia   

For years, an armed, internal conflict has been going on in Colombia. Violent expulsions, the disappearance of people, murders, despotic seizure and torture of leaders of trade unions and other social organisations have become a terrible part of daily life. The perpetrators of these human rights violations are hardly ever called to account. In this climate of conflict, the multinational firms should respond by exercising special responsibility.

In 2002, while new labour contracts were being negotiated, a hefty dispute arose in Nestlé’s milk powder factory between the management and the food trade union Sinaltrainal. In connection with this work dispute, members of the trade union received death threats from paramilitary forces.

Members of MultiWatch (Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Kolumbien ASK, attac and Solifonds) tried to mediate in the deadlocked dispute by trying to arrange a meeting at Nestlé’s headquarters  in Vevey. Nestlé, however, refused to receive a Colombian workers’ delegation. Consequently, these organisations tried – with lobbying methods in the public - to convince the Nestlé management to intervene in their factory in Colombia and search for a fair solution. Instead, the management in Colombia exerted more pressure. Now the trade union section in the former CICOLAC firm has been destroyed. Only one Union member remained in the factory. Today, the firm has been renamed and converted into the consortium DPA with Fonterra SA (New Zealand).

The case of CICOLAC is only one of many work conflicts Nestlé has in Colombia.  And there are other types of cases which also put Nestlé’s reputation into question: for example, the Colombian State has confiscated imported milk powder which was outdated and relabelled with new valid dates. Nestlé contested or played down this incident.

MultiWatch is aware that in Colombia “other laws” reign due to the war situation and daily violent confrontations. Therefore, it is difficult to judge the responsibility of a company. But because of these realities in Colombia and the widely practised impunity there, we are convinced that the above mentioned cases inside and outside of Nestlé’s factory have to be examined closely.

Who is MultiWatch?

The alliance “MultiWatch – campaign for human rights” was founded in March 2005. It is supported by various Swiss aid agencies, NGOs, political parties, workers unions, church groups and movements critical of globalisation.

MultiWatch wants to monitor the activities of swiss multinational companies in order to make public any infringements of law, human rights violations and other problematic practices. The managers in charge shall be made accountable for their activities. The aim of the association is to point out human rights violations by swiss multinationals in order to push forward the implementation of international human rights norms at such transnational firms. To keep the public informed, this shall be done by clearly focused actions and campaigns.

For more information (german and french):


-        October 29th and 30th 2005 in Berne: Hearing on Nestlé in Colombia 

-        December 16th 2007 in Vevey (Nestlé’s Headquarter): Black Planet Award for Nestlé

-        July 22th 2008 in Berne (International Day of Protests against the Politics of Transnational Corporations): Minute’s silence in commemoration of Nestlé’s victims 


Last Updated ( Sep 29, 2008 at 05:31 PM )
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