An interview with Jaime Acevedo
On June 18, 2020 workers from Cervecería Nacional SA (Anheuser-Busch InBev) affiliated with the Union of Workers of the Beer Industry of Panama (STICP) started a protest, which included both the processing plant and the local distribution and sales agencies nationwide.
The workers protested the illegal suspension of 13 workers at the Pasadena plant and the violation of the collective agreement.
“After the May 4 dismissals of 10 workers misrepresented as departures by ‘mutual agreement’, Cervecería Nacional began to pressure 13 other workers to accept the same treatment. By refusing, they were suspended without pay” Jaime Acevedo, STICP general secretary, explained to IUF Latin America.
Acevedo stated that this action is clearly illegal.
“Cervecería Nacional adheres to a decree that the government approved in the midst of the health emergency that prevents dismissals even in companies that had to close operations.
We never stopped working and there is even an increase in sales. That is why we consider them to be illegal suspensions and demand the immediate reinstatement of these suspended workers,” said Acevedo.
The protests began in front of the Pasadena processing plant in the capital and in the agencies of Chorrera and Santiago.
Meanwhile, the workers who were suspended are still resisting, and the union has set up ways to raise funds that allow them to survive while the fight lasts.
“If the company does not end its anti-union attitude, we will be forced to escalate the protests, involving more agencies nationwide,” he said.
“In my own way”, by AB InBev
The current management action is not new to the AB InBev-owned brewing company. Last year the union presented a list of violations of the collective agreement to the labor ministry.
“The violations have not stopped. They continue to hire third parties to carry out permanent work and they do not guarantee the presence of security personnel in the trucks or the agreed number of distribution assistants on the trucks.
It is a totally unfair attitude towards workers. They want to take advantage of the country’s health crisis to reduce jobs. This is not acceptable”, warned Acevedo.
Both Sitrafcorebgascelis and Fuclat1, IUF Latin America region and affiliated organizations in the beverage sector are supporting this STICP fight.