Published: 11/02/2010

The Coca-Cola Workers Alliance, which now includes 56 IUF unions with membership in Coca-Cola, was launched in 2008 to strengthen and reinforce members’ organizing and bargaining power inside the company. The Coca-Cola Workers Alliance Steering Committee held its second meeting February 4 to 5 at the IUF Geneva secretariat to review activities and plan the next steps for one of the IUF’s most ambitious projects for building a global trade union organization in a major transnational company.

Fighting rampant casualization at Coca-Cola is a priority for the Alliance, which adopted a strong resolution in support of FAWU members on strike for better wages and against casual employment at SAB-owned ABI, a Coca-Cola bottler in South Africa. The seven-week strike was settled on February 9. The Alliance will attempt to combat abuses of casual work and actively support all union efforts to limit, halt and reverse the destruction of permanent, direct employment.

Alliance support for organizing initiatives in the Coca-Cola system is closely linked to the struggle against precarious employment through the IUF’s global Coca-Cola and PepsiCo organizing project. IUF coordinators are currently working with affiliates in a number of countries on organizing strategies, and global talks with the company are directed at ensuring organizing space for affiliates.

Mutual support in disputes and in repulsing attacks on trade union rights is an essential element of a global union network, and the Steering Committee reviewed recent cases where such support has been provided, for example the conflict involving SIPTU in Ireland last year, and most recently the FAWU strike in South Africa. In a special resolution, the Alliance Steering Committee also called for immediate recognition of the union at Coca-Cola in Multan, Pakistan.

Another key issue was the difficult collective bargaining negotiations at the Coca-Cola bottler in Germany, CCEAG. Johan Botella, chairman of the General Works Council, reported on the company’s uncompromising position regarding employment guarantees and the extension of agency work and the union’s commitment to defending decent work for all Coca-Cola workers in Germany.

The meeting also emphasized the need for an active Pepsi-Cola workers union network in order to achieve better terms and conditions for workers in the soft drinks sector generally. The Alliance welcomed the first steps taken by the IUF to establish and expand this network.