Solidarity with striking Canadian Cola-Cola workers fighting outsourcing of full-time jobs

The 700 full-time workers and 100 temporary employees are walking the picket line at Canada’s largest Coca-Cola plant in Brampton since June 27. The major issues in the dispute are outsourcing and pension benefits.

Contract negotiations broke off June 26 between the company and Canadian Auto Workers Local 973, which represents the workers at the Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada bottling facility.Striking workers produce, run the warehouse and distribute Coca-Cola products in Ontario and Manitoba. Picket lines have been set up outside the plant on Westcreek Boulevard, near Highway 410 and Highway 407.

The production and bottling facility is Coca-Cola’s largest in Canada. It is one of the top employers in the city of Brampton, a suburban community near Toronto.  July and August are generally the peak season for consuming Coke products as the annual heat waves send consumers looking for a variety of ways to quench their thirst.

The union says that the company is asking for a large list of concessions from workers, meanwhile its net profit for 2012 was $9 billion. Norm Chow, president of CAW local 973, states Coca-Cola presented workers with a series of concessions that “attacked workers’ benefits, job security and work rules as well as their union.”

Some of the concessions Chow said the employer “attempted to push on workers” include cuts to short and long-term disability benefits, and a cost-sharing plan requiring workers to pay a portion toward benefits.

The union also contends Coke proposes to eliminate a defined benefit pension plan for all new hires, which would be replaced with a new defined contribution plan.  

That’s on top of outsourcing jobs and changes to policies regarding contracting out work traditionally performed by skilled tradespersons.

“Coca-Cola says that they do not want a strike and yet they refuse to negotiate or provide a comprehensive offer,” states Chow in a letter to union members.   

Ryan Parson, Plant Chairperson for the union representing the workers, says they were forced out on strike.  Outsourcing of full-time jobs is one of the issues at stake, as is maintaining observed Canadian holidays such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

You can find further information at the leaflet of CAW.
Please support Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 973's struggle for permanent, good-paying union jobs at Canada's largest Coca-Cola plant in Brampton!

Send a message to Coca Cola management today protesting against the outsourcing decision and to say that workers will not tolerate this sort of irresponsible corporate behavior.

Messages should be sent to Coca-Cola Canada President Nicola Kettlitz at nkettlitz@coca-cola.com, with copies to the IUF at burcu.ayan@iuf.org and CAW at Katie.Arnup@caw.ca

You can send your own message or use the model message below:

Dear Mr Kettlitz,

We are very concerned to hear about Coca-Cola Canada's plans to outsource the full-time jobs and to eliminate a defined benefit pension plan for all new hires

This step, meaning further casualization of workers, is a step in the wrong direction. It leaves the workers with insecure jobs, and has already undermined labour relations at the company. For such a large company like Coca Cola which makes $9 billion of profits this is absolutely unacceptable on how the company is treating its employees. This strike is about Coca Cola wanting to take away the benefits and pension from the very worker who helped make them rich.

We fully support CAW in its industrial actions against this unfair move. We will be looking forward to hearing that the outsourcing plan and the cuts to short and long-term disability benefits, and a cost-sharing plan requiring workers to pay a portion toward benefits have been cancelled, thus returning to a joint solution to the problems stemming from the use of casual and temporary work and securing a defined benefit pension plan for all new hires

Sincerely yours,

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