Ukrainian Nestlé employees left the company’s Russian business: Reuters

  • Some Nestlé employees in Ukraine resigned due to the company’s business in Russia, Reuters reported.
  • A manager said in an internal email that he was “sorry to hear employees resign.”
  • The manufacturer of Cheerios and KitKats said they would continue to sell essential items in Russia and donate the profits.

A large number of Western companies have stopped doing business with Russia, and the handful of those still trading there have, according to a report from Reuters, experienced a backlash from their employees in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.

This includes some Nestlé employees in Ukraine who have resigned due to the Swiss food company’s decision to continue trading in Russia, the publication reported, citing an internal email to executives of Marco Settembri, head of Nestlé European business.

He said he was “sad to hear employees resign” and was “deeply concerned about hearing about employees who have been bullied and threatened” on social media to stay in the company, according to Reuters.

“We have been focused on the safety and security of our Ukrainian colleagues and are doing everything we can to support them and their families,” a spokesman for Nestlé told the publication.

The spokesman said that Nestlé had about 5,800 employees in Ukraine at the beginning of the war, but that many had since left the country. The company says it has provided staff with salary advances, money to support relocations, emergency care packages, legal advice and immigration advice and job offers in other companies run by Nestlé. It says it has also converted part of a factory in Poland into housing for workers and their families who have crossed the border.

Nestlé still sells significant items in Russia

Western companies, including McDonald’s, Goldman Sachs and PayPal, have withdrawn from Russia since it invaded Ukraine in late February.

Nestlé, which makes basic goods such as Cheerios cereals, Gerber baby food and Nescafe coffee, dropped some of its Russian activities, including advertising, capital investment and the flow of “non-essential imports and exports”, but continued to sell products in Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed the company, accusing it of using “cheap PR” to defend its decision to continue doing business in Russia amid a “thirst for profit.” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said CEO Mark Schneider had shown “no understanding” during a conversation about Nestlé’s decision to stay in Russia.

Some of the company’s employees based in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lviv also sent Schneider an open letter on Nestlé’s internal message board, saying that staff felt “betrayed” by its continued activities in Russia, Reuters reported.

On March 23, Nestlé said it would stop selling many of its products in Russia, including those under the KitKat and Nesquik brands, but that it would continue to sell essential items, such as baby food and medical nutrition.

“Although we do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes in the foreseeable future in Russia, any profits will be donated to humanitarian aid organizations,” the company said. It earned $ 1.82 billion in Russian sales in 2021, or 2% of the company’s total revenue.

Nestlé told Reuters that all its activities related to its Russian business were now handled in the country, where it has seven factories and more than 7,000 employees.

“In (my team) we have stopped working with Russia and never want to work with them again,” a Lviv-based Nestlé employee told Reuters.

Nestlé did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

It is not only Nestlé employees who are angry that their company has continued its Russian operations.

In March, about 130 employees of US food giant Mondelez based in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia sent a petition asking CEO Dirk Van de Put to stop all business in Russia, Reuters reported, citing screenshots of an internal social media post . Staff said they were “strongly opposed” to Mondelez’s decision to stay in Russia, adding that all taxes and wages paid to the country “supply its army and kill even more Ukrainians,” according to Reuters.

Mondelez’s European President Vinzenz Gruber responded to the post by saying, “We stand by our colleagues and not by the decisions of their governments / countries,” Reuters reported.

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