Orio maker, Nestl,, Pepsi face pressure from European workers in Russia

New York / London, April 14 (Reuters) – Oreo-maker Mondelez (MDLZ.O), Nestle (NESN.S) and PepsiCo (PEP.O) are facing layoffs in Ukraine and a backlash from workers in Eastern Europe angered by companies. Decisions to maintain some businesses in Russia, according to internal company data reviewed in an interview with Reuters and six workers.

As Ukraine has repeatedly called on Western companies to go beyond existing sanctions and sever all trade ties with Russia, the mayor of Kviv called such payments “bloody money” to Moscow. read more

Employees who speak out or resign about companies’ response to the Russian invasion are mainly from Ukraine, Poland or Eastern Europe, and a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by food producers.

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An internal note seen by Reuters shows that Nestl left an unspecified number of Ukrainian employees and that others were bullied on social media in order to stay with the company doing business with Russia.

About 130 employees in Mondelez in the Baltic region, which includes Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, sent a petition in March to CEO Dirk van de Putu to shut down all businesses in Russia, previously unannounced.

An Ukrainian employee of Mondelez, interviewed by Reuters, expressed shock and amazement that their company still advertises “The Batman” Oreo cookies in Russia and offers up to 500,000 rubles ($ 6,000) on the Oreo website.

The website showed that the winners of phone numbers starting with the Russian national code were given cinema tickets and hats from Wednesday.

Another website promoting Milka chocolates offered up to 20% off purchases and gifts to Russian residents in an ad launched on March 15, three weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The movie “The Batman” was stopped from being released in Russia a week before it hit theaters.

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. (WBD.O), which owns the film studio that produced the film “The Batman”, made the move to its associates, such as Mondales, but had no influence on whether “The Batman” -branded product would be removed from the shelves. , Said someone familiar with the matter.

Mondales did not respond directly to questions about “The Batman” Orios or Milkha commercials, but said there was no advertising in Russia. The company said on March 9 it would suspend advertising media spending.

Consumer goods companies, including Unilever (ULVR.L) and P&G (PG.N), have said they will continue to trade in Russia because some of their products will be needed by everyday Russians, such as diapers or milk. They have been supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Nestle, PepsiCo and Mondelez, three of the world’s largest packaged food manufacturers by market capitalization, have not yet released any brands that are sold in Russia, or what they consider to be essential.

Mondelez’s petition states that workers “strongly oppose” the company’s decision to remain in Russia, according to screenshots of an internal social media post shared with an employee Reuters. The employee declined to be named because he did not have the authority to speak to the media.

“Every Russian ruble paid in the state budget (aid) in the form of taxes and salaries will provide the occupier with its army and kill even more Ukrainian people, including children, women and the elderly,” the petition said. Screenshots.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”, saying it is not designed to occupy territory and refuses to target civilians.

Mondelez European President Vinzenz Gruber responded to the post by saying, “Our culture (in Mondelez) includes everyone who shares our values ​​and calls for peace,” according to the screenshot.

“We support our colleagues, not the decisions of their governments / country,” Kruber wrote.

The Chicago-based Mondales said in a statement, “We appreciate our staff speaking out and sharing their voices in this heartbreaking and meaningless war.

‘Mentally broken’

In addition to 19 posts on internal corporate news bulletins, one worker at PepsiCo, two at Mondales and three at Nestl told Reuters that their employers wanted to take a stronger stand against Russia.

“Our grandparents told us terrible stories about Russia’s activities in Poland during World War II,” said Patrick Stoss, 40, manager of Pepsi in Warsaw. “I see the same thing happening again and again in Ukraine. It’s very depressing.”

Stas told Reuters he was leaving his job for war reasons, but Pepsi’s current business in Russia showed he had made the right decision.

Although Pepsi has stopped selling soda in Russia, it continues to sell what it calls “daily essentials”, including snacks and dairy products. Pepsi declined to comment.

Marco Settembri, head of Nestle’s European business, said in an internal email to Reuters in March that he was “deeply saddened to hear that employees were resigning” and “deeply concerned about the harassment and intimidation of employees.” The memo was sent to the head of Nestlவின்’s business service center in Ukraine and to other executives, including the company’s human resources chairman and head of crisis management.

Nestlத்தில் had about 5,800 employees in Ukraine at the start of the war, but now a significant number have left the country, a Nestle spokesman said.

Sofia Washchenko, manager of web content at Nestl உள்ள in Lviv, Ukraine, who worked for about eight years for web content, said in a post on LinkedIn before leaving this month that the group of 20 people heard in Europe was “mentally broken”. In response to a question about Nestle’s Settembri company’s operations there, the broader webcast stated that the company will continue to support colleagues in Russia.

“People in the middle of the war with the Russian military do not want to hear it,” he said in an interview last week.

Nestl ஆரம்ப initially suspended its advertising and capital investments in Russia, provoking anger from both its own staff and Ukrainian officials over the sale of KitKat bars to Moscow.

Some Lviv-based employees have sent an open letter to Nestle’s internal messaging board, saying in March that “our people feel betrayed” by the company’s continued operations in Russia.

Later that month, Nestl announced that KitKat would stop selling its wide range of brands in Russia, including chocolate bars and Nesquik. read more

Nestl still sells essential items such as baby food in Russia, but said it would donate the profits to charities. All three employees interviewed by Reuters want greater transparency about products that the company considers essential.

“We are focused on the safety and security of our Ukrainian colleagues and do everything we can for them and their families,” a Nestl spokesman said, adding that it pays people a one-time payment to support advance pay and transfers. Provides jobs for people at other Nestle operating companies.

When asked about the refusal of Ukrainian employees to speak with Russian colleagues, Nestl told Reuters, “We have immediately arranged for Nestl to deal directly with all operations serving Russia directly from Russia.” .

“Of course I do not want to work with those in Russia. We do not know who is right in the war,” Mariana, a Lviv-based Nestle employee, said Tuesday. He was asked not to use his last name as he did not have the authority to speak to the media.

“(In my group) we stopped working with Russia and did not want to work with them again.”

($ 1 = 82.8750 rubles)

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Report by Jessica Dinapoli in New York and Richa Naidu in London; Don Similevsky’s additional report in Los Angeles; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Lisa Schumacher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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