Disabled Nestlé worker fired for Facebook post

UPDATED: Swiss food giant Nestlé fired a disabled member of staff at its Perugina chocolate division after she posted a message on Facebook in which she “undermined the authority” of managers.

Disabled Nestlé worker fired for Facebook post
Nestlé reportedly fired a disabled member of staff at its Perugina chocolate division over a Facebook post. Photo: My aim is true

The alleged offence took place on October 30th, when Marilena Petruccioli posted a message on her Facebook page expressing her disgust after reading a disciplinary note from “the head of personnel” at “this company” in which the person purportedly compared a member of staff to a dog.

In a case that has now reached parliament, Petruccioli said in the post that the manager should be "put under review" for using the word ‘collare’, meaning ‘dog collar’, in reference to a foreman who had been disciplined for flouting health and safety rules at a factory in Perugia, La Repubblica reported.

“'Il collare' is worn by dogs, not people," she wrote. "Certain people who hold certain roles should be careful about the terms they use in certain official actions.” 

Although Pertuccioli, who is also a trade union representative for staff at factory, didn’t name the company, she was dismissed earlier this month for “publicly attacking the company’s personnel managers”.

Nestlé Italy said in a statement that Pertuccioli had “ridiculed” company managers on social media for their efforts in “enforcing stringent sanitation and security measures” in order to “protect workers, products and customers.”

The company added that the disciplinary action referred to in the message was taken against a factory foreman for not wearing appropriate overalls while working on a production line.

It said the public comments had “undermined the authority” of those in charge of enforcing health and safety regulations.

“From a trade union representative, who has the responsibility of representing hundreds of people working in the largest plant of the Nesté group in Italy, we expected support and not criticism of efforts to ensure safety in the workplace.”

The dismissal was condemned by Fai-Cisl, a union that represents workers in the food and agriculture sector, which vowed to “legally cleanse this spectacular own goal by Nestlé”.

Pertuccioli had been working for the Perugia-based subsidiary since 1996 and was placed under Italy’s “protected” workers category after becoming disabled following a workplace accident in 1997.

Dario Bruschi, the president of the union’s Umbria branch, claimed the Facebook post referred to something that “happened in another company” and “that a series of circumstances might have led to the belief that it referred to Nestlé-Perugina”.

But Nestlé Italy dismissed the claim, saying “it is misleading to attempt to represent and minimize the repeated comments of Mrs Petruccioli as being unrelated, or related to the context where she works.”

A series of meetings with national union coordinators are planned over the coming days, Bruschi added, while Nicola Fratoianni, a politician with the Left Ecology Freedom party, raised the case in parliament.

“Is this an example of the good relations between employees and employers that the government is trying to bring about with the Jobs Act?" he was cited in Il Manifesto, a communist daily.  

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