Ukraine: Coca-Cola workers picket in Kyiv to demand a wage increase

On June 18, 2020, Coca-Cola workers organized a protest action at the factory gate. Around 30 protestors joined the picket and demanded a 100% wage increase.

According to protesters, this is how much the company underpays workers who, despite the outbreak of COVID-19, conscientiously fulfill their duties that ensure continuation of the plant's production.

During the rally, posters that protesters held read: "The price of a bottle has increased, but not the wages"; "We demand higher wages"; "For decent wages at Coca-Cola" and others.

The protest was the result of the company's unwillingness to negotiate with the IUF-affiliated Agro-Industrial Workers Union of Ukraine (AIWUU), and to increase wages despite sharply falling, purchasing power in recent years.

Workers hoped that negotiations would start before or during the action. However management made no contact with workers. Instead the company decided to call for a reinforced police squad with as many members as protestors. Managers were apparently afraid of their own workers!

Management also positioned a line of trucks between protestors and the administrative buildings so that staff would not see the workers demanding better wages. Despite the obvious contravention of traffic laws that this management action resulted in no police action was taken to clear the line of trucks.

Representatives of Chernihiv and Kyiv regional committees of the AIWUU joined the rally. Words of support and solidarity were sent by members of the Coordinating Council of IUF affiliates in Ukraine, as well as the IUF office in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Because of quarantine measures, the organizers of the rally ensured safety measures were followed including providing protestors with PPE and keeping a physical distance between those on the picket line.

Sergiy Rudnitskiy, the local union president commented: "I think today we have taken only the first step towards increasing wages. Given the unwillingness of the company to reckon with more than 120 employees who have signed a collective appeal with a request to increase wages, we will not stop and are ready to continue our struggle for a decent remuneration for our employees.  In no way do we want to harm the company - many of us have been working here for ten or more years. We only urge local management to finally face the workers, hear them, and resolve the issue of decent pay together with us through negotiation. Today they didn't want to see us, hiding any view of the protest with trucks, but they heard that the workers cries of "Shame!" aimed at them. And it's shameful for the plant's management to refuse to even communicate with people who with their own hands and at some risk to their health deliver the company's profits".

Please find here the video of this protest action.