Sta. Rosa Laguna – Workers from the Coca Cola Sta. Rosa plant rejoiced over the victorious settlement they obtained after going on a 3-day strike. After having blockaded the factory’s four gates, the workers finally lifted their strike with “happiness” and declared triumph in their call for regular employment.
After three days of picketing in front of the Coca Cola Sta. Rosa plant, the workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Sta Rosa Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc.-Independent declared victory over a successful settlement with the Coca Cola management.
Around 500 workers and supporters held a solidarity night on May 22 in gratitude to all the supporters to the 3-day strike launched by the union. A victory march was likewise held at 7 o’clock in the morning on May 23 from the Coca Cola plant to Balibago Complex, which was attended by more than 200 workers and supporters.
On May 22, around 6 o’clock, the union, represented by its president Fernando Avelino, together with their legal counsel signed a settlement with the Coca Cola management, represented by its Human Resources Director for the Asia Pacific Region Juan Carlos Dominguez. The agreement includes:
(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 under CCBPI under CBA or company policies;
(3) The start of 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 P15000 financial assistance, and P9000 rice allowance tax free. Said amounts will be given on or before June 15, 2013;
(5) The union will lift the picket starting 7 pm of May 22, 2013; and
(6) The parties agreed not to have retaliatory actions against each other.
“The happiness we’re experiencing now should be credited to the determination and unified courage amongst the workers who have been experiencing unfair labor practices in the company. The union knows so well that the provisions in the settlement are but a skimpy part of the multinational Coca Cola Company’s total assets amounting to $86,174,000,000 or 3,446,960,000,000 in Philippine Pesos, with a declared 6% volume growth during the last quarter of 2012. But it has to be made clear—if not for the strike, Coca Cola would not be obliged to give the workers what is due their labor. The victory of our strike is a victory for all the workers who long for just wages and benefits, regular employment, and right to union.” Fernando Avelino, UMDFP-CCBPI-IND said.
“On the other hand, 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. We will join forces with other workers in other factories experiencing the same working conditions and capitalist suppression—especially now that we have once again proven the power of strikes.” Avelino added.
The Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno expressed its solidarity and highest salutation to the workers of Coca Cola under the UMDFP-IND union, considering it as ‘a momentous blow against all monopoly capitalists, the biggest in the included, who deem workers as slaves, and endlessly exploit the latter’s labor power and our country’s semi-feudal and neo-colonial system’.
“The workers—ironically suffering because of very low wages, rampant contractual employment, the absence of benefits and right to organize, vis-à-vis the rising prices of commodities—are truly the ones who create capitalists’ wealth. The workers of Coca cola Sta. Rosa have demonstrated the power they possess within their unified ranks.” Said Hermie Marasigan, PAMANTIK-KMU Spokesperson.
“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.” Marasigan ended.###