FAWU on strike against Coca-Cola Fortune

CCF'S promising permanent workplaces, outsourcing a whole department. Affiliates are called upon to support FAWU to stop outsourcing and continue the progress of creating permanent workplaces in South African bottler.

In 2009, IUF affiliate FAWU entered into discussion with Coca-Cola Fortune, tje South African part of Coca-Cola bottler SabCo, about the exceptionally high number of casual employees in CCF’s operations.

A huge number of non-permanent workers contributed to the company’s profits by that time: In high as well as low season, there were consistently more than 220 temporary workers, and more than 730 casual (agency) workers, rising up to over 280 and 1060 respectively in peak months. The company itself contended that the “baseline is high”. In some departments, as for example the sorting department, the number of casual workers was and still is higher than the number of permanent employees.

FAWU strongly demanded that all workers who were long-term employed in Coca-Cola operations should be transferred to permanent positions, a process referred to as permatisation. Confronted with the union’s clear position and the ongoing discussion in South Africa about restriction of agency work, the company agreed to recognize its responsibility for those workers, who had been working with the company sometimes for years, and start the permatisation process.

Over the course of 2010, 300 workers were permatised under a process agreed with the union. Candidacies for new permanent workplaces to be filled in were proposed by shop stewards based on criteria like seniority, disciplinary record, and skills. It looked like here was a company that was ready to rectify the unequal treatment of workers in the past. Management also issued a statement on employment equity, committing to “promote equal opportunities and fair treatment to all employees…”.

By October 2011, the number of permanent workers in the bargaining unit had reached 1925, of which 1685 are FAWU union members (whereas casual workers find it difficult to join the union because of the job insecurity).

Still, a lot remained to do. But at some point in 2011, the process stalled. Instead of moving forward department by department, the company announced plans to… outsource the sorting department, where incoming empty bottles are being prepared to be refilled. According to the company, there are no plans to move away from refillable bottles, so there’s no reason why the department should not be part of the core business any more.

As FAWU reported “This intention to outsource affects 50 permanent employees, and +- 80 fixed term employees. The employer argues that the permanent employees will be integrated into other operations whilst those ‘precarious employees’ will be transferred to a third party. The workers’ worst fears are already confirmed as the employer has indicated that the current performance standards/ benchmarks will be drastically increased as soon as these employees are transferred to the third party. That indicates that issues that pertaining to workers’ Health & Safety will be seriously undermined.”

FAWU thinks that this outsourcing initiative clearly violates the spirit of the discussions held previously. It engaged the employer in order to convince him to refrain from the initiative. However as those discussions had no result, FAWU is embarking on strike action today, Nov. 11, 2011, demanding that the plan be dropped.

Please support FAWU’s struggle for permanent, good-paying union jobs at Coca-Cola Fortune!
Send a message to CCF management today protesting against the outsourcing decision.
Messages should be sent to the company’s HR Director, Dr Amber Anderson on [email protected] or Fax to +27 862 104 839, with copies to the IUF at [email protected].

 

You can send your own message or use the model message below:

Dear Ms Anderson,

We are very concerned to hear about Coca-Cola Fortune’s plans to outsource the Sorting department.

This step, meaning further casualization of workers, is a step in the wrong direction. It derails the welcome process of permatisation that FAWU and CCF had begun jointly, contributes to the persistence of low quality, insecure jobs, and has already undermined labour relations at the company.

We fully support FAWU in its industrial actions against this unfair move, which violates the spirit of the agreements found with FAWU in joint discussions.

We will be looking forward to hearing that the outsourcing plan has been cancelled and the permatisation process is being extended to the over 50% of workers in that department who are currently working as casuals, thus returning to a joint solution to the problems stemming from the excessive use of casual and temporary work.

Sincerely yours,

….

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