Brazil: Workers reach agreement at Coca-Cola FEMSA following strike notification

Wilson Vidoto, President of the IUF-affiliated Marilia Region Food Industry Workers Union (STIAM), representing FEMSA workers in Marilia, Brazil reported on the reasons that led to the decision of workers to strike.

What is the situation on the ground in FEMSA Marilia?
"The union has the best agreement in this facility for the state of Sao Paulo, which includes a number of very important social benefits," Vidoto told.

"FEMSA, the Mexican subsidiary of Coca Cola, now seeks equal footing with its other bottlers, something we will not accept. Furthermore, since the Group acquired FEMSA Spaipa, the bottler made a series of layoffs that resulted in a reduction of staff at the factory and as a result an overload of tasks; quality of food provided by the company has dropped significantly. So what we have is precarious working conditions and workers will not be allowed to degrade further," he added.

What is proposed by the employer?
"FEMSA proposes a wage increase that barely covers the inflation adjustment period and the same proposal for social benefits. The union does not accept it. We also want to discuss with the company issues like quality of life, exploitation of workers; food allowance and Christmas food basket; profit sharing and other social benefits that FEMSA wants to cut. As we have not had positive results, on July 13, gathered in assembly, workers decided to declare the strike," he stated.

How many employees work for the Marilia?
"About 500, and there are many points to discuss regarding health and safety. In the factory there is even no medical emergency kit in case of accidents. The company also wants to unilaterally impose hour bank system (extra hours worked can be taken in lieu at an alternative time) with the intention of not paying overtime, among other things.

What steps will you take if there is no change in company's position?
"In the first instance we will wait to see if FEMSA gives some kind of signal before the weekend. If the management keeps its initial pay offer and insists on cutting benefits we will begin to mobilize," Vidoto stated.

The union accepted the new offer from the company and the strike was averted

On August 3, 2015 the IUF-affiliated Marilia Region Food Industry Workers Union (STIAM) reached an agreement with Coca Cola FEMSA and withdrew the strike.

The president of the union stated that although the agreement does not satisfy all the demands,it is generally favorable for the approximately 400 employees of the manufacturing unit of Marilia.

"From the beginning the company even refused to comply with the provisions of collective agreements at the state level. In this situation, workers declared the strike and just hours before going on strike, FEMSA made a new proposal and workers agreed," said Vidoto.

A total increase of nearly 9 percent was agreed maintaining the food voucher in 217 reais (about $ 62), reducing the cost of food offered by the company by 50 percent and delivering a Christmas basket and a gift voucher for each child under 11 years old, among other benefits.
Vidoto noted that issues such as "hour bank system" and participation in profits and results are discussed separately, as requested by the union.

The union leader thanked the IUF Latin American Federation of Coca Cola Workers (FELATRAC) for its support in negotiations.

The original Spanish story is here.