It probably seems like there’s a new spread emerging every single time you take a visit to the grocery store–but that doesn’t mean we don’t all have our favorites that we stay loyal to. Beside the OG classics like peanut butter and jelly, Nutella is just one of those that had the world obsessed the second it was introduced and now, there are entire restaurants based around this one hazelnut spread.
But what goes up must come down and unfortunately for the Nutella lovers of the world, our access to the hot commodity may be in danger as French workers bring the world’s biggest Nutella factory to a near-standstill in a showdown over salary negotiations.
According to reports from CBS News, tensions have been mounting at the site in Villers-Ecalles in Normandy, where activists from the Workers’ Force union have been barring trucks from entering or leaving the factory for a week. The plant produces a mind-blowing 600,000 jars of Nutella every single day, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s production.
After six days of failed efforts to end the standoff between the factory and its workers, Nutella owner Ferrero on Monday started threatening to fine those workers involved in the blockade. Ferrero France management said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch: “Consequently, the plant management has duly informed the strikers illegally blocking the factory that it has obtained a court order foreseeing financial penalties for those continuing to strike past Monday June 3rd at 6.00 am.”
But that threat of getting fined still didn’t deter unions, as Workers’ Force says 160 of the factory’s 350 workers are taking part in a walkout to demand 4.5% salary increases, one-time 900-euro bonuses and better working conditions.
“It’s war, anger is mounting,” union activist Fabien Lacabanne explained in a statement. He said the company agreed to a 1.7% raise for the lowest paid workers and one-time bonuses between zero and 400 euros, which unions say isn’t enough to offset rising living costs. Unions also complain of deteriorating factory conditions and mounting pressure to increase productivity.
Italian-owned Ferrero said it is trying to protect workers who aren’t on strike, and wants to resume dialogue, but they won’t do so until the workers stop blocking the factory. Their next negotiation meeting is scheduled for June 13.
“The plant management is dedicated to protecting the large majority of the employees who are not striking and who wish to continue to carry out their usual activities. At the same time the plant management remains committed to guaranteeing fair and open dialogue,” the company said, adding that it “hopes to resume its normal operations soon.”
Let’s hope these French workers get the money and the working conditions they deserve–for their sake, and for the sake of the Nutella lovers all around the world.