Some common ground has been reached, but not enough to prevent new layoffs:Interview with With Alexander Mosquea.
Almost two years after filing its proposal for a collective bargaining agreement, the National Union of Frito-Lay Dominicana Workers (SINTRALAYDO) is still fighting the company’s refusal to engage in collective bargaining and dealing with its antiunion attitude. Amidst this climate of uncertainty, Alexander Mosquea, general secretary of the union, acknowledges that there has been some progress, with minor agreements reached at the tripartite level and promising discussions on additional issues raised by the organization he heads.
-How are things coming along with Frito Lay Dominicana (PepsiCo)?
-There are a few lights, but still many shadows. After the IUF Mission in November of last year, the Labor Ministry opened up a tripartite space, what it called a “Work Program,” where we started to find some common ground with the company.
In that space we discussed two issues: giving us access to the plants so that we can approach workers as a union; and forming joint committees on hygiene and industrial safety.
After several work sessions we were able to come to an agreement on these two points. In this sense, we will now have access to the plants every Saturday, for two hours, and we will be included as members of the joint committees, to guarantee workers’ rights.
-How do you interpret this decision by the company?
-It’s a first step, which we value as positive, but which must be the start of a true worker-management relationship. Which is why we presented another three issues for discussion over the coming months.
The first issue has to do with the establishment of a joint monitoring committee, so that any conflicts that may arise in the plants, as well as any layoffs, can be jointly addressed by management and the union.
We are also asking management to let us put up bulletin boards to communicate with our members and inform them of the work we are doing as a union.
Lastly, we proposed a 30-percent raise for workers earning up to 30,000 pesos (720 dollars), and a 15-percent raise for those earning 30,000 to 50,000 pesos (720-1,200 dollars).
We’re meeting again on May 7. For us, signing an agreement on these five issues would be our first experience in collective bargaining between the parties.
-You said there were many shadows, though.
-Sadly, PepsiCo seems to be taking away with one hand what it gave with the other, so much so that it hasn’t stopped firing union members.
This last week it fired nine workers from the Production area, and there are rumors that it is planning to fire another 25, which would make a total of 34 completely unjustified layoffs.
We cannot allow this, it’s another blow from the company in its attempt to undermine our union’s efforts to reach an undisputable majority, which would allow us to file the proposal for a collective bargaining agreement and launch negotiations.
-It’s certainly a highly contradictory position.
-Exactly. And we’re very concerned. We must push for negotiations so that we can be recognized as a union and engage in true collective bargaining.
For this we are going to need all the national and international support we can get. We hope that this May 1st all the workers of the affiliates of the IUF will raise their voice and join our struggle and mobilization.
In Managua, Giorgio Trucchi
Photo: Giorgio Trucchi