Another Nestlé union activist killed
On the 12th November 2013, Colombia Reports online reported that a Nestlé worker and activist of the food union Sinaltrainal had been killed on the 9th November in a suspected paramilitary attack in the town of Bugalagrande in western Colombia.
Oscar Lopez, who worked for Nestlé for more than 25 years, was killed in a bar by unknown gunmen on Saturday night.
Lopez, was an active member of the union and had been involved in the long-lasting dispute about union rights between Nestlé and Sinaltrainal. In the protest, some activists had started a hunger strike in October, which was paused momentarily because of threats, but resumed on November 5th.
The night before the attack, several activists received threatening text messages saying, “you still are bothering Nestlé, now there will be no more mercy! We are going to chop you up. Death to all communists of Sinaltrainal!”
The message was signed by the name “Los Urabeños,” one of the country’s most notorious neo-paramilitary groups.
The murder constitutes a climax in the persistent labour conflict between Nestlé and Sinaltrainal, which escalated after Nestlé withdrew from negotiations a few months ago.
According to Swiss human rights group Multiwatch, Nestlé had been pressuring workers to join a rival union and trying to delegitimise the work of Sinaltrainal.
This incident comes only two weeks after a report was published that declared the failure of a bilateral plan which was set up between the U.S. and Colombian government three years ago to alleviate the serious labour problems in the country.
Human rights group Multiwatch stated that Oscar Lopez’s case was the 15th violent death of Nestlé workers in Colombia, while Nestlé admits the deaths of seven workers and several white-collar employees.
After the resumption of the hunger strike last week, Multiwatch wrote an open letter to Nestlé’s Chief Executive Paul Bulcke calling for a return of the company to the negotiating table and to protect their workers from future threats.
In Switzerland, a group of 20 Swiss congress members have written a letter to Nestlé expressing their concerns and asking for a meeting with representatives of the company.
See our company profile of Nestlé.