Fight against more flexibility and impact of creation of new European Partners bottler on jobs feature in IUF&EFFAT Cola-Cola newsletter

ITALY : As described in the previous newsletter the situation at HBC Italy remains largely the same. HBC continues to implement the changes it had earlier announced. These include transferring functions and activities from the national headquarters to the business service organization (BSO) based in Sofia, (Bulgaria) resulting in some workers changing their functions and others leaving the company with individual severance arrangements provided by the Group but without an agreement on these severance terms being reached with trade unions.

HBC also continues to implement changes to the logistics department, where activities will be outsourced to third parties.

There have been no changes to date applied to the three HBC production plants,

HBC has decided that the production of Coca Cola Life will be carried out in Marcianese, near Caserta, while Nogara will maintain its output volumes and Oricola will focus on glass production. There are some concerns amongst IUF member unions that excessive imports through growing wholesale logistics could adversely affect Italian production.
HBC sales force employee numbers have not grown. They remain at approximately around 900. However these sales workers are currently being employed under a new "transferable worker" formula. That means that employees responsible for a certain area can be transferred temporarily to another and then brought back to the original area, as needed.

In light of the above our Italian members do not feel any sense of security and anticipate further challenges as the Coca-Cola Italia Group plans appear to be taking the company and its employees into uncertain waters that fraught with risks for the future.

FRANCE : France is in the same situation as many other countries in the European Union. The majority of production sites in France currently experience low growth.

In some plants there is even a decline, despite the growth of volumes of bottled water during the summer months when water consumption is privileged over soft drinks. In some cases in France volumes are down on 2015. In the case of the large Dunkerque plant volume is 8 million cases down. Management claims this is due to the fact that this plant is unable to produce the new case format "33cl Sleek can" and that these volumes are therefore necessarily transferred to a plant near Paris. The company claims an investment plan is under way to allow this plant to produce the new format can.

Management is requesting flexibility linked to volumes in a similar way to that forced on members at Ghent (see below). This takes place against the background of increasing internal competition between European sites and the resulting pressure for flexibility is Damocles' sword that hangs over all our members.

Companies in France are waiting for amendment to the French Labour Code which would help employers to impose greater flexibility at workplaces. The original text has been nipped in the bud but the framework of the new Code remains.

The creation of the new CCEP bottler in Europe will do great harm to some of the plants and to the current international organization of the CCE structure. The top management of CCEP will no doubt optimize costs and in that way seek to gloss over major problems whilst increasing the pressure on workers for flexibility.

BELGIUM- GHENT : Some previous communication described the unacceptable demands for more flexibility proposed by the Coca-Cola Enterprise management in Ghent plant.

First management basically blackmailed the unions saying that these demands had to be agreed and implemented through a CBA to be signed no later than March 23, or the Ghent plant was going to be closed. Local Management said that these decisions had been taken by Atlanta and therefore declined any responsibility. As a consequence, employees in Ghent have faced terrible pressure built on this unacceptable threat.

Management also suggested the closure of the Ghent plant could be considered as an alternative to the closures of one of the German production plants. This was entirely wrong since the two production plants in Germany referred to are in fact set to close anyway. It was simply a crude attempt to play German and Belgian workers off against each other.

As has been described already the Ghent plant is one of the most unionized plants in the CCE Group. By imposing negative changes on Ghent workers management hoped that would lead to the implementation of demands for the same levels of flexibility in the rest of the Coca-Cola Supply Chain organization.

Follow-up after March 23 : On Wednesday March 23 Belgian colleagues completed negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement including flexibility related to the company's "HORIZON plan". They had been told they had to reach an agreement by the end of that day to save the Ghent plant and to secure the much-needed € 75 million investment.

Around 6pm the final CBA documents focused on the flexibility measures were signed by management and the union secretaries.

However during the final day of negotiations unions succeeded in making some important changes to the text proposed by management. These changes will mitigate the burdens on the employees impacted by the flexibility measures.

By signing the CBA, the employer is obliged to start investing at least €75 million. A further round of negotiations took place on April 4 focused on financial compensation for employees who will be made redundant between September 2016 and April 2018.

It was a difficult decision for unions to agree to but they felt it was necessary for the future of the 327 employees who will be still employed at the Ghent plant after 2018.

GERMANY : On March 1 NGG received information about the next round of restructuring to be executed in 2016. The plans include the closure of eight locations justified by the company in relation to the declining volumes of refillable bottles that directly impacted two of the refillable bottles production plants. These two bottling plants are in Bremen and Berlin-Hohenschönhausen.

In addition to the close of these two plants (with 438 job losses), management also wants to restructure the Customer Service Centre, Marketing, Sales Coordination and HR, which will affect another 120 jobs. The overall job loss is 558 with 1446 jobs affected in some way. These restructuring plans are part of the merger of three bottlers into CCEP, saving the company close to €375 m.

SPAIN : FFAT and the Spanish Unions were able to secure the establishment of the CCIP EWC.  CIP is one of three companies that will merge in 2016 to create Coca-Cola European Bottler (CCEP). Though they will only exist for a short time pending the finalizing of the merger the establishment of this workers representative structure is considered extremely important by Portuguese and Spanish employees and EFFAT member organizations. It will provide an opportunity to have a direct access to Central Management during a very sensitive period leading up to the merger.

Meanwhile CCIP have put in place a voluntary redundancies plan that will affect a further 120 jobs in Spain.