Nestlé Colombia under scrutiny

, by Alliance Sud

Alliance Sud and Nestlé have been engaged in a high-level dialogue on Colombia between 2006 and 2011. Alliance Sud examined the behaviour of the multinational and the accusations being levelled at it by local trade unions. Two years later it evaluated the implementation of its recommendations. The dialogue led to concrete improvements, yet the deep conflict with the trade unions persists.

At the end of October 2005, the watchdog organisation Multiwatch – to which Alliance Sud and some of its members belong – put Nestlé «on trial» in Berne. The group’s headquarters in Vevey tried unsuccessfully to impede it. Yet its interventions to the directors of Caritas and Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund lead to a years-long dialogue process with Alliance Sud.

The talks began in the spring of 2006. Both sides agreed on confidentiality so as to ensure open information and to prevent the exploitation of the dialogue for PR or campaign purposes. Besides, it was not to be an abstract discussion about corporate responsibility but one based on the concrete case of Colombia. For Alliance Sud, the aim of that process was to help generate greater respect for human and trade union rights on the part of Nestlé and improve living and working conditions in Colombia. In April 2008, Alliance Sud undertook an initial fact-finding mission at its own expense.

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