Everyone remain calm. Please do not panic. Everything’s going to be ok. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine. But that said, industrial action at the world’s largest Nutella plant in France could result in a global shortage of the hugely beloved choccy spread.
160 workers at the plant in northern France have been on strike since May 28, and have now blockaded the factory completely, shutting down all production lines and preventing any trucks from entering the facility. That represents about a quarter of the factory’s total workforce.
The industrial dispute stems from workers asking for a 4.5% increase in wages coupled with employee bonuses of around AUD$1,450. Management’s counteroffer to workers has been a paltry 0.4% wage increase with no bonus. Therefore, strike.
The problem there is that the plant is responsible for an insanely large chuck of Nutella production: At normal function, the factory churns out around 600,000 jars of Nutella per day, which represents around 25% of the brand’s total output. At present, all but one of the factory’s production lines have been shut down, and the one that remains function is only operating at around one-fifth its normal capacity.
Factory officials are at pains to stress there is no Nutella shortage yet; they claim that reserve supplies are keeping things operating as normal and there’s absolutely no need to panic. But whatever way you look at it, reducing the world’s largest Nutella factory to a whisper of its normal output has gotta put a strain on stocks at some point.
Ferrero officials have reportedly begun fining workers around AUD$1,600 per hour for maintaining the blockade, in a move union officials blasted as “an unacceptable violation of the right to strike.“
Our take? Pay them. Pay them at once.
For whatever it’s worth, Ferrero Australia issued a short statement in an attempt to assuage local fears, stating “Nutella sold in Australia and New Zealand, is produced and supplied locally, out of Lithgow NSW.“
Still, pay them.
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Image: Getty Images / Diego Puletto