Nestlé Workers on Strike
This week 470 workers walked off the job and stopped production at the Nestlé chocolate factory near Lansdowne and Dundas.
Nestlé pays its temporary workers $6.57 less per hour than permanent employees, even though they do the same jobs, but it takes years of service to become permanent employees.
A large number of Nestlé workers are Parkdale tenants. These striking workers are our neighbours in buildings on Jameson and West Lodge. Ngawang is one of them.
“I have been working at Nestlé since 2018. I am still a “P Zero’ earning $17.30 an hour. Every year my rent goes up, but my wages stay the same. This is not right,” he said.
Workers say that P Zero temporary workers make up around 20 per cent of the factory’s entire workforce.
Workers were angered when, during union contract negotiations, Nestlé put new demands on the table at the last minute. Nestlé had been making as few as ten P Zero workers into permanent employees each year. The company then told the union that in the future they only want to make five P Zeroes permanent each year. In response, the union held a vote and 96 per cent of workers agreed to go on strike.
Like tenants in Parkdale, workers at the Nestlé factory come from all over the world. Working-class people from every continent live side-by-side in apartment buildings and work shoulder-to-shoulder at Nestlé.
Ngawang came to Toronto from Nepal in 2011. He supported his friends who work at the Ontario Food Terminal when they went on strike for better wages and conditions in 2016.
“I was there with other Parkdale tenants to support the Food Terminal workers when they went on strike. They are like us. We come to Canada because we have no rights at home.”
Workers like Ngawang have supported their neighbours when they needed support. Now it’s time for all of us to do the same for Nestlé workers.
“Nestlé is a multi-billion dollar company with good chocolate products. We just hope that they shorten the years to move us into Permanent. We don’t want to go strike but we deserve equal pay for equal work.”