Coca-Cola Norway: Switch to disposable bottles costs 500 jobs

On February 10, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has announced that they no longer will use recycling systems for their plastic bottles but will use disposable bottles for bottling Coca-Cola products in Norway. IUF affiliated NNN (Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Association) which represents Coca-Cola Norway workers is very disappointed with the decision made in Atlanta which will lead to almost 500 unionized job cuts. The union representatives conducted negotiations with the employer since then and strongly opposed to this change.

The company's decision of disposable packaging causes not only many job loses across the country, but the decision is also a major defeat for the environment which will give rise to more production of new plastics even if this is plant- bottles. There is no independent report so far which determines that non-refillable plant bottles are more environmentally friendly than the refillable ones.  However NNN has a new report which concludes with an environmental benefit in continuing with reusable bottles.

Coca-Cola has many employees in Norway and nearly 500 of these are now losing their jobs at Coca-Cola plant in Oslo and warehouses at Brobekk, Lørenskog, Trondheim, Stokke, Bergen and Stavanger. The union is concerned that particularly on Brobekk, it can be a big challenge to get new jobs for those dismissed.

Coca-Cola Norway also gives its distribution to grocery chains which is an incomprehensible decision. This clearly shows the cynical power struggle going on between manufacturers and grocery chains. The manufacturers are forced to hand over more and more to the grocery chain. Jobs and the environment mean little to TCCC in the giant's power struggle with grocery chains.

NNN emphasizes that the world's biggest brand being delivered alongside toilet paper, detergents and other household cleaners will lose its good reputation of its world class marketing.

NNN President Jan Egil Pedersen called on supermarket chains that have enforced this with Coca-Cola to take responsibility for the 500 employees- a large number of them with migrant background- who will be dismissed.

If supermarket chains will continue their rivalry and dominance on distribution against the manufacturers, in the long run this will eventually result in more expensive Norwegian foods and beverages.

Coca-Cola shop steward Jan Vidar Hansen stated that NNN and staff representatives on the board have voted against the change in bottling system. The union reps believe that CCE should have done a better job for those who made redundant. The focus of NNN is now to assist those affected.

NNN is also demanding that the government should consider increasing the tax on disposable packaging.

On behalf of NNN and workers of Coca-Cola Norway, we ask Coca-Cola alliance members to show their solidarity by sending solidarity messages to the workforce via NNN.

Please send your message to [email protected] with copies to [email protected].

Here is a solidarity letter sample;

Dear NNN members, workers of Coca-Cola in Norway!

On behalf of my organization and 2.6 million IUF members around the world, I salute your resistance, and I salute your actions to fight for keeping Coca-Cola jobs in Norway!

The Coca-Cola Enterprises management has announced a shameful attack on your jobs and livelihoods by changing the bottling system resulting in the redundancy of the workers who've created the wealth of this company for so many years.

The consultation process of IUF affiliated NNN goes on with the company which is subject to very strict non disclosure agreements that with a breach would have caused the union representatives in lawsuits billions worth. The inclusion of this agreement to these negotiations, representing the interests of nobody other than the employer, adds insult to injury. IUF affiliate NNN has been putting up spirited resistance to the move and has pointed out many potential consequences that do not seem to have been properly thought through.

It is totally unacceptable that a company that's making hundreds of millions of Euros of profit and considers itself "socially responsible", a company that has pledged so many times that the well-being of the community and its workers is one of its business priorities; just throws its workers out like the disposable bottles it produces.

CCE must reverse its decision. It must enter into serious negotiations with NNN on keeping the jobs in warehouses, sales and producing refillable bottles in Norway which would also be environmentally friendly. A management that earns its name must find other solutions to keep the production with no job losses instead of leaving the company before the implementation of new system. 

On behalf of my organization and IUF members organized in Coca-Cola operations, I assure you that we will support your just resistance as long as you will fight. You are not walking alone.

In solidarity,

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