The Brazilian-based TNC AmBev, one of the top four global breweries, has announced its decision to close the NORTEÑA brewery in Paysandú (400 km. from Montevideo), which it acquired only in 2000.
Nearly 200 workers are directly employed at this brewery, which has been a mainstay of the local economy for 50 years. Uruguay has an unemployment rate of 22%, and the Paysandú region has been heavily affected by other plant closings.
The IUF-affiliated union Sindicato de Obreros y Empleados de Norteña (SOEN) is carrying out an extensive public campaign that has gained widespread support. On 12 February 2500 persons created a “solidarity embrace” surrounding the plant, joined by contingents from the IUF, affiliates from Uruguay and Brazil, and from the Brazilian labour federation CUT.
The IUF Latin American Region has also joined in the collection of signatures on petitions demanding that the brewery be kept open (more than 20,000 to date), and IUF affiliates throughout the region are sending protest messages to AmBev and to the government of Uruguay.
The IUF sent the following messages to AmBev and to the government of Uruguay:
To: Sr. Mauricio Luchetti, Director of Human Resources, AmBev
We have been informed of the decision of the general management of the AmBev group to close the Norteña brewery in Paysandú, Uruguay, which the group acquired only in the year 2000.
In the name of the 3 million unionised workers in 124 countries that are members of the 344 unions affiliated to the IUF, we strongly protest this decision that would cost the jobs of some 200 employees of this brewery. This decision would also strike a new blow in a region where unemployment is already 22%, and would certainly have negative consequences for the economy of the region as a whole.
We therefore urgently ask you to reconsider this decision and to find a solution that permits continued activity at the Norteña site.
The IUF is giving full support to the struggle of the workers of Norteña and of their union. the Sindicato de Obreros y Empleados de Norteña.
To: Sr. Presidente de la República del Uruguay
Dr. Jorge Battle
We have been informed of the decision of the general management of the AmBev group to close the Norteña brewery in Paysandú, which the group acquired only in the year 2000.
The IUF is an international labour federation that represents 3 millions workers in 344 unions in 124 countries. Our regional secretariat for Latin America is located in Montevideo.
The IUF believes that AmBev’s decision has grave consequences not only for the 200 workers who would lose their jobs, but also for a region where the unemployment rate is already 22%.
We consider it the responsibility of the state of Uruguay to use all possible means to avoid the closing of the Norteña brewery and to maintain industrial activity and employment at the site. We therefore ask you to use your influence, Mr. President, to ensure that AmBev enters into serious negotiations on the future of the Paysandú site.
We urge you to send similar messages (please include name of your organisation) to:
Director Recursos Humanos AmBev
Sr. Mauricio Luchetti
or by fax to +5511 2122 15 17
Sr. Presidente de la República del Uruguay
Dr. Jorge Batlle
or by fax to +5982 480 75 61