NEWS: Coca-Cola Workers’ Sweet Victory*

June 27, 2013

The strike led by 300 workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Coca Cola Sta Rosa-Independent (UMDFP-CCBPI-IND or Union of Driver, Forklift Operator, and Picker in Coca Cola Sta. Rosa-Independent) was lifted victoriously on May 22, three days after the union staged a strike to call to end the contractualization being implemented by Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI).

UMDFP-CCBPI-IND and CCBPI, according to a report from Bulatlat, signed a settlement with the following points held in agreement:

1. The workers under the UMDFP-CCBPI-IND will be absorbed as regular employees of CCBPI within 3 months from the date of signing;

2. Once the employees are absorbed, they are automatically entitled to the benefits provided for by CCBPI, the CBA or company policies;

3. The review for absorption will commence on May 27, 2013 where CCBPI will be represented by Labor Relations and Social Development Manager Antonio Apale, and the union will be represented by 3 representatives;

4. Financial assistance will be given to all consisting of P15,000 financial assistance, and P9,000 rice allowance tax-free. Said amounts will be given on or before June 15, 2013;

5. The union will lift the picket starting 7 p.m. of May 22, 2013; and

6. The parties agreed not to have retaliatory actions against each other.

According to the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU or Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog-May First Movement), the workers staged their protest due to unfair labor practices by the management and contractualization of workers.

Some 430 workers, who have been with CCBPI for years, have been contractualized after being put under Red System Agency. 99% of Red System is owned by CCBPI.

As a result, benefits (rice subsidy, 13th month pay) were removed. Also, the drivers are paid for every trip they make (the practice before was to give them a fixed salary), and the pickers and forklift operators are not fully paid for the overtime work they render. Add to this the lack of safety and health standards, such as putting up of bathrooms.

According to UMDFP-CCBPI-IND president Fernando Avelino, “We remain firm in our principles, and our ranks will even more be vigilant until Coca Cola fully implements the provisions of the agreement. The fight for our rights does not stop at this historical triumph.”

PAMANTIK-KMU spokesperson Hermie Marasigan ended, “Through their strike, they have showed the rest of the workers in the region that without them, capitalists and their investments are nothing but empty warehouses, non-operational machines, and useless superiors all incapable of producing new wealth, in this case, in the form of the famous happiness-bringing soda, Coca Cola.” •

*This is an article from the CBBRC Update April-June 2013 issue.