Guatemala: We must prepare for a new and long period

Interview with Carlos Luch

"The Union of Workers of Embotelladora Central SA (STECSA) has a good dialogue with FEMSA management, the Coca-Cola franchise bottler in Guatemala, in the exceptional context caused by the COVID-19 pandemic", Carlos Luch, the secretary general of STECSA told the IUF Latin America Region in a recent interview.

-What is the situation in Guatemala in relation to the pandemic?
"The official information is that the pandemic has been contained. We hope this is reliable information."

-Everybody talks about the pandemic, yet there is still silence about hunger and poverty that for decades have killed thousands of people in Guatemala.
"That's how it is. Some UNICEF studies show that practically 50 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. It means that 1 in 2 boys and girls go hungry. Guatemala ranks first in Latin America and ranks sixth in the world in terms of child malnutrition.

We are mortgaging the future of the country, because these children are going to grow up with deficiencies in their physical and intellectual capacities.

On the other hand, the recommendation to avoid the spread of the coronavirus is that we wash our hands for 20 seconds, but there is a large part of this country submerged in poverty that does not have access to water and soap. That's the reality."

Union and company in daily meetings

-Tell us what is happening at Embotelladora Central?
"Our production is listed among the essential services. A few days ago we had to adapt the schedules for production and the sales staff. We have demanded that the company operates in a way that provides all workers with the necessary personal protective equipment, such as face masks and hand gel. There were middle managers who were not supporting these measures, but we acted and we achieved them."

-The level of dialogue with the company seems to be effective
"Yes, the parties have listened to each other. The union, as far as it can be, has been flexible, understanding that we must adapt to a new reality, but always demanding respect for both the collective bargaining agreement and any agreements we have with the company.

It would be very bad for the relationship if FEMSA abandoned this process and began to make other kinds of decisions. This is a new and complicated situation, which will last a long time and for which we must prepare.

In this regard, we are certain that we have the support of the IUF and our Latin American Federation of Coca-Cola Workers, FELATRAC."

Please see here the original news story in Spanish.