Nestlé: Union Conflicts in Colombia

UPDATE (18 Dec 2014)

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has responded by submitting a complaint against Switzerland on behalf of Romero’s widow to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. The ECCHR is basing its case on the right to life (Article 2) and the right to an effective remedy (Article 13) guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECtHR must now determine whether the Swiss judiciary has adequately examined Nestlé’s liability for
Romero’s murder.


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In Colombia, Nestlés subsidiary Cirolac is in steady conflict with the union Sinaltrainal. MultiWatch [1], a Swiss NGO, accused Nestlé of inciting conflict with Sinaltrainal through a negative publicity campaign. Such allegations put union members at very high risk of threats, attacks, or death.

In 2012, human rights activists from the ECCHR and the Colombian trade union, Sinaltrainal, filed a lawsuit under the Swiss court system against Nestlé alleging the company´s involvement in the murder of a Columbian union leader. However, the legal authorities in Switzerland delayed the proceedings [2] for such a long time that the case was time-barred.

During the following year, paramilitary groups murdered several Sinaltrainal union members [3] working at a Nestlé factory in Bugalagrande, Colombia; many union members continue to face death threats. More recently, in November 2013, paramilitary troops shot and killed Oscar López [4], a union member and 25-year employee of Nestlé in Bugalagrande while other workers were conducting some days of hunger strike.

Nestlé rejected [5] any responsibility for the killings.


[1] Multiwatch (2013): “Nestlé Gewerkschafter in Kolumbien ermordet”, Multiwatch, 10 November (accessed 13.11.2013).

[2] European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (2013): “Nestlé has nothing to fear from Swiss legal system”, 10 May (accessed 05.09.2013).

[3] Sinaltrainal (2013): “Nestlé. En Bugalagrande continúan asesinando personas amenazadas”, 21 June (accessed 13.11..2013).

[4] J. Revill, D. Molinski (2013): “Nestlé Factory Worker Shot Dead in Colombia”, The Wall Street Journal, 11 November (accessed 13.11.2013).

[5] M. Astley (2013): Nestlé denies link to Colombian anti-union violence as murder probe begins”, Dairy Reporter, 14 November (accessed 13.11.2013).