Dominican Republic: Coca-Cola workers progress for collective bargaining agreement

The National Union of Workers of Bepensa Dominicana SA (Sinatrabedsa) and the Coca Cola in Dominican Republic (Bepensa) have been exchanging positions and are open to dialogue. However, the IUF affiliated Sinatrabedsa is not willing to renounce acquired rights during collective bargaining  negotiations.

"There is no doubt that relations with the company have improved and we have made great progress in several areas, however there are changes that Bepensa wants to put forward which we disagree ," told Rafael Vega, the general secretary of Sinatrabedsa.

Among the most contradictory points, there is the implementation, by the Dominican employers, of the 4x4 working day scheme, which means 4 working days of twelve hours and four days off, without any overtime, holiday allowance or night shift benefit.

"We are advising through the central unions, and this issue seems to be a matter that threatens the gained rights. In addition, the Dominican labor code recognizes a working day of 8 hours and a total of 44 hours per week. That's why we will oppose this model, "said Vega.

Vega has acknowledged that there has been progress in the relationship with the employer.

"The joint committee is working and the company is consulting us when they want to implement any changes or there is a problem with any worker," said the general secretary of Sinatrabedsa. One of the issues being discussed and negotiated at bipartite level is respect of leave entitlement, and the alleged lack of commitment of the company to labor legislation.

Among the achievements, Vega noted a general wage increase of 5 percent retroactive to July 1 of this year. He also reported that in July 2015 the Union will start to negotiate a new collective agreement. "Many hope to continue growing in capabilities and achievements. Most important of all is that we are backed by friendly organizations, which are always aware of events within our union" he said.

Currently in Bepensa about 2,000 workers are employed and 1,200 are affiliated to Sinatrabedsa.