To some, trade union internationalism may seem to be a very old-fashioned notion, even quaint. One might imagine that in some of world’s leading corporate boardrooms the use of the word “solidarity” might prompt a condescending smile.
But as the world’s largest food corporation, Swiss-based Nestlé, has recently discovered, global labor solidarity can be very real and very powerful.
Last October, several dozen union members working at the Nescafé factory in Panjang, Indonesia, walked out on strike over a bargaining deadlock. The strike ended and both sides reached an agreement to return to work. But when the workers came back to their shifts, they were met by riot police.
Nestlé managers began arbitrarily sacking the workers. Not all the strikers were sacked, but all those who were sacked were union members who had
participated in the strike.
It was a clear message to others not to be “troublemakers.” By sending this message, Nestlé was picking a fight with unions around the world,
and making a serious miscalculation.