Upcoming “Atlanta meeting” to discuss precarious employment in the Coca-Cola system.

The regular biannual meeting between union representatives and Coca-Cola top HR management will take place Oct. 6/7 in Atlanta.
The Union delegation will consist of representatives of trade unions with memberships in key Coca-Cola markets, IUF General secretary and beverage sector coordinator, and IUF regional officials from Asia/Pacific and Europe.
The Agenda includes updates on various topics discussed earlier, in particular, on discussions around an international union rights and recognition agreement (see the agenda of the meeting). One of the major topics, however, will be a discussion on employment, precarious work and outsourcing.

Following the Global Coca-Cola Workers meeting in Germany in May 2008, where strong concern had been expressed by delegates over the growing incidences of job destruction and use of precarious employment in most part of the Coca-Cola system, the IUF conducted a survey among some affiliates that had expressed such concern. The results, though preliminary due to the short time frame, show that precarious employment is of concern in countries all over the Globe. Among the Findings of the Survey (see also in Spanish and Japanese, 日本語), based on answers from 14 countries, are:
• Precarious employment relations are predominant at some Coca-Cola locations, exceeding 50% of workers and reaching 100% in one case.
• Precarious employment entails pay, bonus, overtime and/or social security discrimination almost at every location.
• The excessive use of precarious employment undermines worker morale, creates uncertainty for the future of families and communities and social disparities at the workplace.
• Bottlers can "outsource" a whole department that used to completely belong to the company (often distribution). While all the rest stays the same, the department is re-named as independent supplier ant its workers subject to "outsourced worker" conditions. Alternatively, trucks are sold to the workers who become "independent contractors" themselves working as "self-employed" delivery workers, even when they work100% for Coca-Cola.
• The presence of unskilled precarious workers can increase the risk of product quality issues and food scares, as well as the risk of OSH accidents, when precarious workers are not given the necessary protective equipment, receive no or little training and have no time to acquire the necessary know-how to protect themselves and others.
• Precarious employment also jeopardizes rights, as under some legislations precarious workers cannot be union members and cannot therefore benefit from representation, negotiation and collective agreements coverage.
• Once permanent workers retire, they are often not replaced or their position is filled with the one of a precarious worker.

The Survey also discusses ways out of the precarious employment crisis. What is obviously needed are permanent jobs, and negotiations with unions on limits and minimum standards for those cases, where temporary employment, agency work or other forms of precarious employment cannot be avoided.

Coca-Cola management is expected to present their view on the use of precarious employment in the Coca-Cola system at the meeting.


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