Labor dispute in Coca-Cola escalates

FFCU

heycokeWORKERS belonging to 14 unions in seven Coca-Cola plants and warehouses across the country will stage 2-hour pickets today as part of their planned series of coordinated actions to protest the increasing anti-labor and anti-union policies of the Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines’ management.

“We have had enough of Coca-Cola Femsa’s lack of respect for workers’ and trade union rights,” Alfredo Marañon, president of the Federation and Cooperation of Cola, Beverage and Allied Industry Unions (FCCU), said. “And if Coca-Cola Femsa will not mend its ways, we will be forced to escalate our actions,” Marañon added.

The protesters are comprised of separate Coca-Cola unions of rank and file daily, monthly and sales workers. They work in Coke’s facilities in Davao City; Bacolod City; Pavia, Iloilo; Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna; Meycauyan City, Bulacan; City of San Fernando, Pampanga; and City of Ilagan, Isabela, Tagbilaran City.

Marañon, concurrent president of the San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank and File Union (SACORU), decried the management’s continuing refusal to openly provide basic company information required by law, particularly financial statements, which are needed by the workers and their unions in CBA (collective bargaining agreement) negotiations.

This and other “bargaining in bad faith” practices have unnecessarily resulted to CBA negotiation deadlocks between management and two incumbent unions in the Davao and Canlubang plants. The unions of Coca-Cola south sales force – encompassing the provinces south of Metro Manila – and in the Bacolod plant are also accusing the local managements of blatant CBA violations.

Unions in Davao and Bacolod are now strike bound. Those in Canlubang are about to join them soon. “The management’s use of ‘red baiting’ and threats failed to stop workers from overwhelmingly voting to go on strike,” Marañon said.

In addition, Marañon disclosed that Femsa has imposed its “Project Frequency” that now threatens the sales force workers in Antipolo, Lagro, Batangas and other areas.

At the same time, Femsa has outsourced the payroll system and implemented the work shifting method by replacing the long-time company practice of “calendar method,” which both caused not only chaotic salary payment and work schedules but resulted also to income losses due to unpaid hours of work.

“It is about time for Femsa to scrap this disastrous practice of outsourcing even a key administrative and regular function of payroll payment, and to revert back to the calendar method to ensure that there will be no income loss or reduction,” Marañon said.

Ironically, Femsa, the world’s second largest bottler of Coca-Cola, has proudly announced only last November that it will infuse additional $500 million investments in the country or a total of $1.7 billion by the end of 2015. It also claimed that since taking over the CCBPI’s majority stake in 2013, Femsa Philippines has “created nearly 2,000 jobs in the country,” now among the reported 8,000 employees working in 22 Coca-Cola plants nationwide.

“To prove its boast, Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines must ensure that labor and trade union rights are respected, where workers enjoy the fruits of their labor, job security is maintained, and trade unions are not suppressed,” Marañon said.

FCCU is an affiliate of the national labor center SENTRO (Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa) and the global union IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations).

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