Unions in India step up fight against ‘no work, no pay’ exploitation

Building on the success of an agreement at Coca-Cola Hospet in Karnataka last year, Coca-Cola unions in south India stepped up their efforts to combat the brutal "no work, no pay system" that drives contract workers deeper into poverty.








Under the "no work, no pay" system that operates in nearly all Coca-Cola bottling operations in India, contract workers report to the plant every day but if there is no work they are sent home without pay. Even if they are on standby at the factory gate all day they are still not paid if they are not assigned any work. The cost of travelling to and from the plant means that contract workers end up losing money on these days.

So a contract worker employed as a final bottle inspector pays Rs.35 for travel by bus to and from home. If she has 20 days work in a month it means that for 10 days she pays travels costs without earning pay, i.e. Rs.350, which means losing 10-12% of her monthly earnings. It’s more than her provident fund deduction in a month.

On 25 September 2010 the contract workers’ union at the Coca-Cola Hospet plant reached an agreement with HCCB management that provides 26 days guaranteed work per month work in the off/low season, effectively ending the ‘no work, no pay’ system.  According to this agreement a total of 134 contract workers will be guaranteed 26 days work in the low season.

The negotiation of this agreement, achieved with the support of IUF, was also the first time a woman contract worker - Sister Krishna Veni, Executive member of the Coca Cola Hospet Contract Workers Union - was involved in negotiations with national management.

At the meeting of Coca-Cola unions in south India held on 28 May, other contract workers unions, including the union from Ameenpur, committed to build on the lessons of the agreement reached at Hospet and end the "no work, no pay" system.

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