New union formed at Coca-Cola plant in south India

In February 2011 a union was organized for the first time at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kalahasti, Andra Pradesh, in the south of India. The plant opened in 2003 as a franchise bottler and was taken over by TCCC 4 years later.

With a union organized for the first time at the plant, local management reacted by quickly setting up two unions the very next day. Despite this the genuine union represents 74 out of 111 permanent workers. There are 300 contract workers at the plant.

Soon afterwards the union General Secretary, C.Kumarswamy, faced harasment by management with fake charges filed against him and a biased inquiry that found him "guilty". However, fearing the union's reaction management stopped short of imposing any punishment.

In fact a union leader at another bottling plant who faced similar harassment by management in 2009 played a key role in helping to organize the new union at Coca-Cola Kalahasti. G.V.Radha Krishna, General Secretary of the Hindustan Coca-Cola Workers' Union at the Visakapatnam plant faced harassment, false charges and a severely biased internal investigation by the company until IUF intervened to stop this harassment. To demonstrate his commitment and gratitude for IUF support for trade union rights, Brother Radha Krishna dedicated himself to organizing Coca-Cola workers throughout the southern states of Andra Pradesh and Kartnataka.

C.Kumarswamy, General Secretary (second from right) and V.Mohan Goud, Treasurer (right) discussing harassment by management with G.V Radha Krishna (left). Brother Kumarswamy is a caser operator and has worked at the plant since it started operations in 2003. Brother Mohan Goud, working as a fitter, has also worked since 2003.

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