Sweden - LIVS highlights IUF's Zero Rights campaign in its widely circulated news magazine


IUF-affiliated LIVS in Sweden has circulated information about Coca-Cola's human rights violations in several countries and promoted the IUF's Zero Rights campaign via its online and printed news magazine.

During the visit of an international IUF campaign delegation made up of union leaders representing Coca-Cola workers in Indonesia and the Philippines in Sweden, LIVS members in the Jordbro Coca-Cola plant were very disturbed to learn the details of Coca-Cola Company's failure to respect union rights and remedy ongoing human rights violations in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, the Philippines and the US.

LIVS leadership and membership pledged to provide ongoing support to their fellow workers in those five countries and to apply pressure on the Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers to take remedial action to resolve these ongoing violations.

Please find below the English translation of the article published in Mål & Medel newsletter written by Gunnar Brulin.

"Together with Liv's, union leaders from Indonesia and the Philippines protested against Coca-Cola for not respecting the right to free trade unions.

The union leaders from Asia came to Stockholm on December 3, where they informed LIV's leadership about the Zero Rights campaign and the violations of trade union rights committed by Coca-Cola's bottling companies and distributors around the world. Then the delegation went to Jordbro. There, they met LIV's workplace club at the large Coca-Cola factory and asked for support in the fight for union rights. This means, among other things, that the club addresses the issue with its local management.

The Zero Rights campaign is coordinated by the global union federation IUF, which has an agreement with the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta that union rights should be respected at all workplaces where their drinks are dropped and distributed.

This agreement is called the Atlanta Process and came into existence in 2005, when the Coca-Cola Company recognized the global union IUF as a counterpart. It happened after a series of brutal killings of union leaders had taken place at the Coca-Cola factory in Guatemala.

The Atlanta process means that the IUF, together with a group of affiliated unions, meets Coca-Cola Company's management in Atlanta twice a year to inform about violations of trade union rights. After that, Atlanta investigates the matter and if it turns out that the allegations are correct, it should put pressure on its bottlers so that these violations cease.

The process was successful in Pakistan, where persecution of free trade unions and exploitation of precarious employment could be stopped. But after that, the Atlanta process has stalled. "There has been a change of leadership in the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and the new leadership does not seem to care about the respect for trade union rights, nor about the devastating effect these violations have on Coca-Cola's brand," Burcu Ayan, the IUF coordinator of the Zero Rights campaign, when she visited Stockholm.

The delegation that came to Stockholm included Lutfi Arifiyanto who was dismissed from the Coca-Cola Amatil factory in Indonesia for leading the formation of a free and independent trade union. Indonesia was a military dictatorship for a long time, and at that time so-called "unions" were created to work with company managements in order to exercise control over the employees, so-called yellow unions.

The trade union led by Lutfi Arifiyanto has, through democratic means, attempted to break free of this undemocratic power regime in the workplace and create free trade unions based on collective rights and a free choice of leadership.

It was in 2015 that Coca-Cola workers in Indonesia started this struggle for the right to form and join democratic unions. IUF supported them and in 2017 launched a global campaign.

The Zero Rights campaign is targeting a large number of rights violations that have occurred in several countries within the Coca-Cola system that the company's management in Atlanta has done nothing to remedy.

This includes the Philippines where the jobs in distribution have been outsourced and job security destroyed. Two of the Philippine union leaders were also in the delegation that came to Stockholm.

There are more examples. In Haiti, Coca-Cola workers are denied the right to be represented by their union. In the United States, Coca-Cola hired a specialized law firm to keep the factories "free from unions". In Ireland, The Coca-Cola Company refuses to recognize IUF-affiliated SIPTU that its employees have chosen to join and that the Irish Labour Court says it should recognize. In Spain, Coca-Cola dismissed many workers in a brutal series of closures.

Footnote: More to read about the Zero Rights campaign can be found on the IUF's website and more about the Atlanta process can be found in the book "Food for Thought": on food, power and human rights by Mål & Medel's journalists Gunnar Brulin and Malin Klingzell-Brulin (2009).