Uruguay: Coca-Cola Workers ready to confront restructuring

An interview with Javier Martínez, STCC Treasurer

The IUF-affiliated Coca-Cola Workers' Union (STCC) in Uruguay has warned that restructuring in the distribution sector is putting jobs at risk.

At the end of 1980, The Coca-Cola Company, owner at that time of the Montevideo Refrescos plant, outsourced the distribution department. At that time an employers' organization, The Federation of Beverages Transportation (FETRABE), was founded.

Distribution was already 100 percent outsourced when Latin American Coca-Cola bottler FEMSA acquired the plant in June 2018.

Javier Martínez speaking to the IUF Latin America region explained, "The workers who carry out the distribution tasks (approximately 50 percent of the total workforce) are affiliated with the Coca-Cola Workers' Union. The STCC and FETRABE negotiate working conditions and wages every three years. On July 15, FETRABE announced that the collective agreement with the union that was due to expire on August 31 would not be automatically renewed. FETRABE also indicated its intention to reduce benefits.  As of that date, a 45-day clock started to run providing an initial window for negotiations. That is when the company presented its restructuring plan".

On July 17, a first meeting was held where FETRABE informed that 14 trucks will be cut and 30 workers will be suspended. In total there are about 80 employees whose employment is in danger.

Javier stresses, "It is not only a matter of the proposed salary reductions and loss of benefits, but also the jobs that the transporters want to eliminate".

Faced with this situation, the union met with FEMSA to inform them that this proposed restructuring will also cause multiple problems for the business because, with so many fewer workers, it will be impossible to maintain normal operations.

"In recent weeks we have held information meetings and discussions with members to assess the situation that is developing," says Javier.

He also makes clear that STCC will represent and defend all affiliated workers without distinction. "We are a single united union and as such we are going to act in the fullest possible defense of all workers, something we already communicated to FEMSA and FETRABE. We are on alert," he concluded.

Please read here the original news story in Spanish.