Labour relations

At Nestlé we have a well-established Employee relations policy that provides the frame of reference for collective relationships with trade unions and employee representatives. Nestlé has built a culture based on the values of trust, mutual respect and dialogue. Nestlé management and employees work daily to create and maintain positive individual and collective relationships, and are expected to do so as a core part of their job.

As a large global company, we operate in a wide range of countries each with their own laws, rules and culture. This can sometimes prove challenging when it comes to developing good labour relations, which we see as imperative to the growth of the company. It is inevitable that some disputes will occur. We pro-actively seek to prevent labour disputes through a mixture of open dialogue, training and local and regional initiatives, which helps to strengthen the relationships between managers, employees and trade unions.

What we’re doing

  • We limit working time to a maximum of 60 hours a week across our operations – including where there are no local rules or where maximum limits are higher. In markets with legal limits above 60 hours, we have built action plans to reach these goals.

  • Before making operational changes that could substantially affect our employees, we provide a period of notice outlining the proposed changes. While a minimum period is specified in collective agreements in 21 countries, in others it depends on local laws. On average, the period is 42 days.

  • It is our goal that no one working at Nestlé should be subject to differences in employment conditions as a result of their employment status. When it comes to outsourcing work to service providers, our Policy on Conditions of Work and Employment and our Supplier Code (pdf, 2Mb) clearly sets out the minimum standards relating to labour standards and the safety and health of employees, which we expect all our service providers to meet.

  • This policy was developed to clarify for our employees what they should expect as part of their employment package, when progressing through the business. It broadly covers: pay, benefits, work-life environment and personal growth and development. It offers a common framework and in 2014, we launched a Total Rewards toolkit portal, designed to help local business operations ensure that their rewards programmes are competitive, compelling, cost-effective and well understood.

    The toolkit has been piloted in three local contexts, and in June 2014, we trained all our Compensation & Benefits Managers on how to use it. We will follow up and support our markets with implementation of the toolkit during 2015.

  • In our policies, we commit to provide employees with wages and benefits that are sufficient to cover their basic needs. In 2013, Nestlé partnered with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), an external expert that defines the living wage in each country where we do business, to identify gaps in how the living wage is treated across our operations.

    The pilot programme was deployed in Greece, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Ukraine and Vietnam. It demonstrated that living wage gaps existed and we implemented corrective actions. Based on the experience and knowledge gained, we have expanded the scope to focus this project on 29 countries, by the end of 2016.

  • As a global company, we operate in some countries where the Rights to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining are not upheld. Despite the difficulties inherent in such situations and the limits implemented by local law, Nestlé respects at all times and in all places, the right of employees to meaningful and constructive discussions over issues related to working conditions and workplace environment. In 2014, around 51% of our employees worldwide were covered by collective bargaining agreements (2013: 51%).

  • We promote positive relationships throughout our policies, principles and values, seeking to ensure that disputes are settled openly and transparently. It has proven to be an effective approach, and in 2014, 29 industrial actions took place around the world (2013: 25). All labour disputes are resolved according to our principles and values.

    We have continued to work closely with the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), developing a more open relationship and a willingness to work together to tackle labour-related issues around the world. The relationship is based around the new Joint Operating Principles, launched in 2013, which include a commitment to bi-annual meetings between leadership teams from both Nestlé and the IUF leadership, as well as trade union representatives. The relationship is also supported by two working groups: one that focuses on gender equality for non-managerial positions; and the second, which focuses on working conditions.

    We respect the right of our employees to engage in union activities. In 2014, 29 industrial actions took place around the world (2013: 25). The percentage of working time lost due to labour disputes, strikes and/or lockouts averaged 0.016% (2013: 0.004%).

  • We have adopted stringent policies on discrimination which take a zero tolerance approach to prejudice and intolerance on any grounds, including origin, nationality, religion, race, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability. In 2014, 112 alleged incidents of discrimination in our operations were reported (2013: 92).

  • In 2014, there were 211 grievances about labour practices filed through formal grievance mechanisms during the reporting period. Of the substantiated and unsubstantiated cases received, 195 (92%) were closed, of which 43 (22%) grievances were substantiated and corrective action implemented.

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