On May 29, 2020 workers of Cervecería Hondureña (Honduran Brewery that bottles AB InBev and Coca-Cola products) who are members of the IUF-affiliated STIBYS halted production at the San Pedro Sula plant. Following the strike, the union and management, with the mediation of the labour authorities, reached an agreement and suspended the protest.
Julio Flores, General Secretary of the Beverage and Related Industry Workers’ Union (STIBYS), explained to the IUF Latin America region that since the declaration of a state of health emergency on March 15, Cervecería Hondureña has never stopped working.
The absence of adequate preventive measures in the company premises, together with the lack of transportation, meant that more than 85% of the workforce decided to stay at home to protect themselves from infection.
As the weeks passed, Cervecería Hondureña intensified the pressure on the workers to return to their jobs. On May 18 all workers had to return to work.
“A rally was held to demand that the company implement safety measures and pay wages. Although there were substantial advances in safety protocols, salary issues were not resolved,” said Flores.
On May 27 and 28 other peaceful rallies were held in front of the plant.
“We met with the company, we reached agreements, but they never wanted to put them in writing. Moreover, in violation of all the procedures established in the collective agreement, they informed us of the dismissal of comrade Alex Murillo,” he explained.
According to Cervecería Hondureña, Murillo allegedly damaged their image by reporting on social media the presence of workers affected by COVID-19 in the production area.
The news of Alex Murillo’s illegal dismissal further fueled workers. The workers then turned the rally into a work stoppage and a seizure of the factory entrances.
“The protest was always peaceful and workers stood by the factory entrances and blocked the departure of trucks. The situation became more tense when dozens of police arrived, in armoured vehicles, ready to suppress,” said Julio Flores.
Negotiation and agreement
STIBYS called on the Ministry of Labour to take action on the matter. They also requested the Security Secretariat’s intervention to avoid repression.
Finally, on the morning of May 30, the parties met in the presence of the Labour authorities.
“It was a very long and exhausting meeting, but in the end we achieved important results and decided to suspend the strike,” said Flores.
The leader explained that the company agreed to reinstate Alex Murillo, turning the dismissal into a disciplinary suspension, after hearing the legal opinion of the Ministry of Labour.
The company also promised not to retaliate against the workers who participated in the protest, and to provide them with COVID-19 screening tests.
Finally, the parties decided to meet again on June 12, with a single agenda item related to the payment of salaries of staff that were quarantined from March 17 to May 17.
“I take this opportunity to thank all the organizations that have supported us and have mobilized immediately.
I especially want to thank the IUF Latin America region for its solidarity, for having communicated to the world what was happening. That helped us a lot,” Flores concluded.
We congratulate STIBYS and hope that the pending issues will be addressed in a way respecting our affiliate’s fair demands.
Please see here the original news story in Spanish.