Published: 19/12/2011

The giant beverage company PepsiCo is asking Vancouver City council’s consent for $585,000 in water bill credits over three years. The company claims this will help it make $15 million to $25 million in investments at its Fruit Valley plant. Isn’t it hard to believe that PepsiCo company having a net revenue of $16.83 billion would need $585,000 break on water bills in order to invest around $25 million?

According to the company the intension is to install automation and water efficiency measures which the authorities claim new investments will help it keep competitive in today’s snack-making environment although the competitors seem to be not small regional players but could only be other Frito-Lay plants that could ship into the same market.

However there are other reasons behind the water bill break and further investments which the company intends to use to reduce the workforce. The resolution, set for a public hearing and vote before the city council on Dec. 19, would be a continuation of a development agreement approved in 2002. The Frito-Lay company tries to find ways to break the original agreement reached in 2002 which required the company meet several criteria, including a $700,000 one-time contribution to the city; keeping wages above $33,000 (today the actual pay is $43,000); investing $7 million in the plant (they’ve invested $33 million); and keeping a payroll above $15 million (today’s payroll is $23 million).

The Frito-Lay plant, at 4808 Fruit Valley Road is represented by an IUF affiliate, BCTGM Local 364. IUF and its affiliate question what kind of technology is to be introduced or whether the strings attached to the original deal are still attached into the new deal of break on water bills.

The IUF urges the municipal authorities to have a meeting with the union representatives of BCTGM Local 364 and agree on maintaining the security of employment rather than providing privileges to the company which would reverse the good results obtained for the workforce through the original deal in 2002.