Colombia: A new collective bargaining agreement in the midst of a crisis

In mid-April 2020, the National Union of Workers in the Food and Beverage Industry of Colombia (SICO) agreed with Coca-Cola on a new collective bargaining agreement, an achievement in times of social and economic crisis. The IUF Latin America region spoke with Julio Padilla, president of SICO to find out the details of the agreement.

How was the negotiation in Bogotá?
-It went well. We signed a new agreement that will be valid until 2022. The salary increase for the first year will be 4.1 % and for the second year the equivalent of the Consumer Price Index plus 1.5 points.

-And in Carepa, Urabá?
-There negotiations were quite complex, because they were hit by the pandemic crisis, but they finally achieved an increase of 4.2 % this year, which is very good.

The alternative was to suspend the negotiations and that implied that possibly the increase would be less. The negotiation committee handled the situation with well strategically.

The company says sales are down 50%, but our data indicates that the actual decline is 30%. Still worrisome, even if not as serious as they say.

-Have there been any layoffs?
-There were no layoffs in Bogotá or in Urabá, whilst many people are teleworking or taking early vacations.

-Do workers who go to the company have safety protocols in place?
-In Urabá they opted for no gatherings and are using face masks and antibacterial gel. Management asks staff to wash their hands, and disinfection protocols are followed.

In Bogotá safety protocols are even stricter.

Personnel have been hired to disinfect facilities and trucks; morning meetings were suspended; workers keep the physical distancing of two meters in their work stations; teleshopping is promoted; in delivery trucks there is only one worker, instead of two or three. At the entrance of the factory fever tests are done and COVID-19 testing is taking place in cases where someone is showing problems.

We must recognize that Coca-Cola has been more careful in terms of safety protocols than the State itself. That said the Social Security system has abandoned us workers in terms of safety protocols and controls.

Please see the original story in Spanish on the IUF Latin America region website here.