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Beerworkers Archive


Post date: 06/11/2012 - 18:44

SABMiller Panama: Progress despite very unfavorable conditions

On May 25, the Union and SABMiller reached an agreement that rests primarily on the company’s undertaking to respect union rights, as attacks on the labor movement spread nationwide.

According to Union president Alejandro John, the company has agreed to deduct the workers’ union fees from their pay and will allow leaders to enter the company’s workplaces.

“We have made progress with respect to union freedoms, as on May 25 SABMiller undertook to respect the Union and improve management-union relations, which had been marked by arbitrariness on the part of management. So, on Tuesday, May 29, we filed the agreement with the Labor Ministry authorities.”

On May 25, the Union and SABMiller reached an agreement that rests primarily on the company’s undertaking to respect union rights, as attacks on the labor movement spread nationwide.

According to Union president Alejandro John, the company has agreed to deduct the workers’ union fees from their pay and will allow leaders to enter the company’s workplaces.

“We have made progress with respect to union freedoms, as on May 25 SABMiller undertook to respect the Union and improve management-union relations, which had been marked by arbitrariness on the part of management. So, on Tuesday, May 29, we filed the agreement with the Labor Ministry authorities.”

“We were also able to form a bilateral dialogue committee that will meet every two months to hold talks between management and the Union. This is an important gain because up until now there was no dialogue between the parties,” John stressed.

Consulted about the situation of the workers who were fired and held against their will at their Chorrera and Chiriquí workplaces, the union leader said, “the agreement had some positive aspects and some negative ones. We progressed on the issues that I mentioned but as for the arbitrarily fired and suspended workers we will have to file a complaint with the competent labor authorities to obtain their reinstatement and the payment of the wages owed to them.”

“We can’t ignore,” John continues, “the context in which this ploy by SABMiller was carried out. There is a strategy implemented by the national government that clearly favors companies and is aimed at undermining combative trade unions. To achieve this aim, Labor Ministry authorities have given transnational corporations complete freedom of action to commit abuses and take arbitrary measures against their workers, including unjustified dismissal and human rights violations.”

For the president of the Union, this non-aggression pact reached with SABMiller was only possible thanks to the pressure exerted by Rel-UITA (IUF Latin America) and the categorical support from the 26th International Congress of the IUF.

Alejandro John informed that the Union will go ahead with the legal action against the transnational corporation that held workers against their will last May 4, as on this issue no agreement was reached or will be reached with the company.

According to John, “the affected workers are firmly determined to press forward with the criminal action, charging the company with deprivation of liberty, and [the Union] will monitor the company’s actions to make sure that the agreement is implemented to the letter.”

From Montevideo, Gerardo Iglesias
Rel-UITA ,June 4, 2012
Interview with Alejandro John

Please find the original version of the story in Spanish here: http://www.rel-uita.org/