Collective protests and a work stoppage have restored respect for union rights at AB InBev’s Cervecería Hondureña plant in San Pedro Sula, which also bottles products for Coca-Cola.
Following the declaration of a public health emergency on March 15, massive numbers of workers stayed away due to the absence of adequate workplace safety measures and a lack of transportation. The company was determined to continue production as usual, and began pressuring workers to return. Workers were ordered to return to work on May 18 but management refused to negotiate anything binding with IUF affiliate Stibys on safety and other concerns.
Stibys members rallied peacefully outside the plant beginning May 27, and the protests became a full-fledged work stoppage when workers learned of the dismissal of union member Alex Murillo after he denounced inadequate safety procedures at the plant on social media. Tension escalated with the arrival of heavily armed police in armoured vehicles at the factory gate.
Stibys called on the labour ministry to intervene, and a May 30 meeting with the ministry, management and the union inside the besieged plant reached an agreement to settle the dispute.
The agreement reinstates dismissed union member Alex Murillo, establishes that there will be no retaliation against union members for the strike, and sets a meeting for June 12 to settle outstanding issues of payment for workers who stayed away out of safety concerns. Stibys has warmly thanked the Latin American regional secretariat for quickly organizing solidarity and support for their struggle.