Casual Work, Employment and Union recognition rights issues at the heart of IUF/Coca-Cola March 2012, Atlanta meeting

On March 29, a team of Coca-Cola union representatives met Coca-Cola's Global Workplace Rights Director Ed Potter and his team in Atlanta to discuss global labour relations at Coca-Cola, specific cases from countries where issues were reported, and, in particular, the issue of precarious work in Coca-Cola's system.

The meeting examined alleged significant precarious work levels in Morocco, Zimbabwe, India, Philippines and concerns about possible re-structuring plans in Japan, Germany and Spain.

Longstanding issues around general labour relations issues in Guatemala were again discussed with positive developments anticipated by the IUF in May.

Key issues in the discussions were worker rights in India and Philippines. 10 contract workers in India Piranghut concentrate plant have been demanding permanent work for 2 years and are still denied by TCCC's Commercial Product Supply (CPS).  Workers who joined the General Workers' union of India in January 2012, outraged by the latest refusal in March, held a demonstration together with their families at the factory gate demanding justice from Coca-Cola India. The IUF has urged the company once more to use its direct influence on CPS to put an end on the abuse of casual workers and the denial of social guarantees and any employer responsibility to them, noting that the union in India otherwise will be forced to take public action.

The withdrawal of the commitment to hire 741 permanent workers as part of a full manning compliment and the failure to minimize the use of casual workers created a lot of concern. Frustrated by the recent attacks on workers collective bargaining rights and replacing individual Performance Evaluations for wage increases in Philippines, ACCUP and workers mobilized several demonstrations to defend their rights.

Recent fatal accidents at Coca-Cola Morocco operations raised concerns over health and safety conditions. After the report of IUF on fatalities and lack of medical services at Morocco locations, TCCC viewed the issue as non confrontational and proposed more audits and additional precautions.

Both the IUF and TCCC decided to look closer at the Labour Broker and contracted workers issues raised by IUF affiliated FFAWUZ in Zimbabwe.

The manner of the closure of Lodz plant in Poland was brought to the meeting as an example of violation of the right to meaningful collective bargaining. Harassment and discrimination issues of existing union members and shop stewards will be passed onto CCH and further discussions to resolve their problems will be followed by the Secretariat and TCCC labour relations.

Workers at the Coca-Cola Swire operation in Hong Kong represented by HK General Employees Union requested the company to respect the international right to collective bargaining and confirm in writing an agreement reached regarding wages.

European unions raised several concerns regarding Information and Consultation Rights of European Employee representatives, as well as the protection of employment against re-structuring plans particularly in Germany and Spain and possibilities of European union representatives to directly communicate their concerns with Coca-Cola European bottlers. TCCC was asked to coordinate a system-wide European meeting with CCE and CCHB attending.

The IUF and TCCC agreed to work in cooperation to prevent and fight back HIV/AIDS in Africa. Both parties are committed to explore what kind of structure and dialogue can be built to eliminate HIV/AIDS related issues particularly in the southern part of Africa.

The next "Atlanta meeting" is provisionally scheduled for early November.

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