IUF | Coca-Cola Workers Network | Monthly : October 2006

CROATIA: Unions at Coca Cola Beverages sign new collective agreement

Source: ICEM IUF Office Zagreb

Unions at Coca Cola Beverages Croatia signed new collective agreement on 26 October 2006.

The changes in the new collective agreement include:
- raise of salaries in the lower salary grades (to the coefficient 2)
- 50% Christmas bonus and holiday bonus increase (from 1000 Croatian Kuna to 1500 Croatian Kuna (1 Euro = 7,3 Kuna) for all employees who have been continuously employed at the company that year)
- in the case of redundancy of a larger number of employees - in case of
which, according to the national Labour Law, they have to be protected
by a redundancy programme
- all workers that are included in the programme have the right on an additional severance pay in the gross
amount of 40000 Kuna (along with the severance pay per each year employed at the company in the amount that is conformity with national Labour Law).

According to the union representative of the PPDIV union in Coca Cola,
"these long and hard collective negotiations are successfully concluded ".
The website of Coca Cola Beverages Croatia is http://www.coca-colahbc.hr.

Venezuela workers in Coke dispute

More than 10,000 former workers of Coca-Cola's subsidiary in Venezuela are blockading bottling and depots.

They say a Mexican-based subsidiary of Coke owes them a large amount of money in unpaid social benefit.

But Coca-Cola representatives in Mexico have roundly condemned the blockade as an illegal act.

The protesters are being backed by a special parliamentary commision consisting of leftist legislators loyal to President Hugo Chavez.
At one Coca-Cola plant in Caracas about 500 workers blocked the exits and entrances, preveting the lorries which normally supply shops, kiosks and restaurants from leaving the factory.

The protestors are demanding that millions of dollars in unpaid social benefits such as pensions and severances payments be paid immidiately to them by Coca-Cola Femsa, a Mexican-based subsidiary of the US softs drinks company.

Another 10,000 former contractors are camped outside 75 Coke warehouses and plants around Venezuela.
They say they are prepared to stay put until their demands are met. But Coca-Cola Femsa says this will put more than 7,000 jobs at risk in Venezuela.

State takeover

"This blockade is just the prelude to Coca-Cola being nationalised and turned over to the Venezuelan state," says Nixon Lopez, a workers' leader. told the BBC

"We're showing the world ," he added , "that no multi-national company can just come here to humiliate Venezualan employees."

The protesters are being backed by special commission in parliament.
The committee, consisting of leftist MPs, is looking at taking control of the firm if it refuses to hand over the missing payments.
This isn't the first time lawmakers loyal to President Chavez have threatened to take over the assets of big international companies here.
President Chavez has himself spoken of seizing Venezuala's biggest phone company in a similar to the Coca-Cola dispute.

US: Court dismisses Coke Colombian violence case

Source: just-drinks.com

The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed a lawsuit against the two Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia that claimed the businesses conspired with paramilitary groups to use violence to control workers.
The lawsuits were filed in 2001 by the Colombian union Sinaltrainal and several workers. They accused Coca-Cola Co. and its bottling affiliates in Colombia of partnering with right-wing paramilitary groups to use violence in an effort to rid the plants of union activity.

The Court dismissed The Coca-Cola Company from the lawsuit in 2003. In this new decision, the court also denied plaintiffs' motion to amend the complaints to bring The Coca-Cola Company back into the lawsuit and directed the clerk to close the cases.

"The Coca-Cola Company is gratified by Judge Martinez’ decision to dismiss the cases. We reaffirm our belief that the claims in the suit filed against The Coca-Cola Company and two bottlers in Colombia are inaccurate and based on distorted versions of events," Coca-COla Company said in a statement.

"We hope this decision will now enable us to put this case behind us as we continue to focus on working constructively to ensure the rights and safety of Coca-Cola workers in Colombia and worldwide. We are open to discussions with everyone who shares a commitment to finding constructive solutions to workplace issues in areas of conflict around the world."

The soft drinks group said that regardless of this development, it would continue to support the ILO’s independent and impartial investigation and evaluation of labour relations and workers’ rights practices of Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia.