Doing it BIG: after selling Philippines operations to FEMSA, TCCC still doing damage

Eight months after FEMSA bought a 51% stake in Coca-Cola Philippines and gained management control, The Bottling Investments Group (BIG) of The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) is still relentlessly destroying jobs.

In the 5 years from 2007-2012 that Coca-Cola Philippines was under 100% ownership of TCCC/BIG the IUF-affiliated Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions Philippines (ACCUP) fought against the destruction of jobs. Despite some progress made in rebuilding permanent jobs in some plants after very tough campaigning, TCCC/BIG was relentless in its jobs destruction program.

Ironically the US $1 billion investment in 2010 touted as a huge contribution to the Philippines economy coincided with the biggest loss of jobs.

Under TCCC/BIG's continuous restructuring mass forced redundancies were imposed with the loss of over 800 jobs in distribution and delivery. After continued campaigning against the forced redundancies TCCC committed to re-hiring through a new distribution company "Red Systems" 100% owned by TCCC/BIG. Red Systems was created to insource distribution and delivery after years of costly, chaotic outsourcing that destroyed jobs and damaged the business. 

When FEMSA took control of Coca-Cola Philippines in December 2012 TCCC/BIG retained control of Red Systems. Basically FEMSA bought the bottling operations and BIG retained control of warehouses and distribution. But it was soon clear that BIG controlled much more. By forcibly transferring workers from the bottling operations to Red Systems all drivers, forklift operators, loaders/unloaders and even workers on the filling lines were Red Systems employees that FEMSA had to hire from BIG. So BIG became a big labour hire agency.

So while TCCC and BIG deny any responsibility for industrial relations ad employment - pointing to FEMSA as the responsible employer - hundreds of workers were deployed by BIG to the bottling operations. 

Now BIG is transferring workers back to Coca-Cola Philippines but only half will have jobs, the rest will take forced redundancies. Incredibly all former Coca-Cola employees who were forcibly transferred to Red Systems and now are being transferred back must go through a fresh recruitment process - with no seniority and no recognition of their experience (let alone their rights!)

Faced with the threat of strike action at one of the biggest bottling plants, in Santa Rosa, FEMSA management was quick to engage in negotiations with the unions. But BIG washed its hands of responsibility because now Red Systems is only a "fleet management" company!

Our members in the Philippines only hope that BIG and all its management make a big exit - and soon!