Coke union leader faces termination for helping casual workers demand permanent jobs

On 20th July Coca-Cola Philippines management issued an inter-office memorandum to Brother Fred Maranon, President of the San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank & File Union (SACORU), a member of the IUF-affiliated Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions Philippines (ACCUP), threatening termination. The reason is that, according to the company, Brother Maranon "encouraged and exposed the Company to potential liability". What “potential liability”? The legal claims to back wages, compensation for illegal dismissal, and the right to permanent jobs filed by 71 contract workers who worked in the Coca-Cola San Fernando plant for a decade.

National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Conferences were held on 7th, 12th and 19th July to hear the claims made by contract workers. The management of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc (CCBPI) was apparently provided with the records of these conferences in order to respond to these claims. Instead, management used the minutes of the NLRC proceedings as evidence that Brother Maranon violated Coca-Cola’s Business Code of Conduct and the controversial "Red Book" (the 2010 CCBPI Employee’s Code of Disciplinary Rules and Regulations that ACCUP has refused to recognize) by representing and supporting the contract workers’ demands.

The memo states that according to the minutes of the NLRC conferences Brother Maranon said that the contract workers were entitled to become regular employees of CCBPI, as well as receiving back wages and monetary damages. This, management claims, “clearly encouraged and exposed the Company to potential liability.”

So in other words, Brother Maranon, as the local union president in the plant where contract workers were employed in positions that should only be done by permanent workers and which are covered by the Collective Agreement ... where these contract workers should have been made permanent and therefore should already be members of the San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank & File Union ... helped them file legal cases and argue for their legal right to permanent jobs at Coca-Cola.... And as a result he faces termination.

In the same inter-office memo the company admits to abusing the contract labour system by hiring the same contract workers through at least two different labour hire agencies, stating that the contract workers were previously employed by JLIS and currently employed by ROMAC and deployed to CCBPI as contractuals. In addition to the 71 contract workers who filed the two cases that the company sees as a "potential liability", another 59 contract workers filed similar cases supported by the union, with a total of 130 precarious workers demanding that CCBPI recognize their legal entitlement to permanent employment at the San Fernando plant after 8 to 10 years of working for Coca-Cola.

The threat to terminate Brother Maranon, who is also a Council member of the IUF-affiliated Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions Philippines (ACCUP),  comes just two weeks after his union held demonstrations at the San Fernando plant against management attempts to replace negotiated annual wage increments with individual performance pay.

Having allowed a Sales Manager to physically assault Brother Arnel Blanquisco, president of the Coca-Cola Sales Union Mecauayan (CCSUM) and ACCUP Vice President, Coca-Cola Philippines management is now appears to be targeting another union president.

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