Coca Cola workers rejoice over victorious strike, hold solidarity night to thank supporters

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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.###

 

With factory gates locked and operations paralyzed, Coca Cola striking workers brace up for impending dispersal

Coca Cola workers on strikeCoca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Coca Cola Sta Rosa-Independent (UMDFP-CCBPI-IND) launched their strike at the Coca Cola Sta. Rosa plant on May 21, around 4 o’clock in the morning. Workers said their decisive move to launch their strike was their highest and last political resort to call for their rights to wages, benefits, tenure, and union. As they set-up camps and picket lines outside the Coca Cola plant, workers called on consumers to support their strike, as they face severe working conditions in and out of the factory.

At dawn break, around 300 workers and supporters started their strike at exactly 4 o’clock in the morning yesterday, in front of the Coca Cola plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

To commence the strike, 4 gates of the Coca Cola plant were locked up and blockaded with picket lines to paralyze the factory’s operations. More than 1000 production workers were continuously encouraged to join and support the strike. At around 4 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday, the strikers declared total paralysis of Coca Cola-Sta. Rosa’s operations.

Coca Cola-Sta. Rosa management filed damages at the Regional Trial Court-Binan against the union today. The latter immediately released a Temporary Restraining Order at 12 noon, giving the union 72 hours thereafter to lift and remove their picket lines. Otherwise, the management will be assisted by the Philippine National Police in forcefully removing the blockades.

A provision of the TRO orders the union to pay at least P150,000 in damages.

“Can you see how biased the government can be? As far as we can remember, we were the ones being robbed of our salaries, our duly guaranteed overtime pay, our right to form a union. It is very ironic to demand from us such amount of money. They know so well that based on how they treated us for 10 years or more, we do not have the capacity to pay for such thing. The order is total stupidity.”

For the striking workers and their supporters, this meant a forthcoming violent dispersal, which has been the conventional reaction of the state’s apparatus in suppressing workers.

“We knew from the very start that it would come to this point—with the management endlessly benefiting from the government’s bias. We are prepared to defend our ranks. From the day we decided to go on strike, we have become resolved that there is nothing to lose—the company has been inflicting on us the biggest pains and suffering for more than 10 years, making us impervious to physical pain.” Said Fernando Avellino, UMDFP-CCBPI-IND President.

 

“We warned them.” – UMDFP-CCBPI-IND.

The union filed their notice of strike on March 22, 2013 based on the company’s unfair labor practices.

The filing was followed by their stroke voting, wherein 262 out of 267 union members agreed to go on strike.

“The workers who toil every day for Coca Cola to take home billions of profits have been experiencing the worst working conditions under the 99%-Coca-Cola-owned Red System agency. As drivers, forklift operators, and pickers who ensure the safety and orderly release and delivery of finished products, the suffering we have endured has reached its limit.” Added Avellino.

Drivers, who have been in service for 10 to 18 years, are paid on a per-delivery basis, with an average of P4000 for every pay date. Taxes, social service contributions, and the like are automatically deducted from their measly salary. Deliveries, they say, are long and exhausting, consuming 18 hours to and fro the factory. Delivery shortages are likewise deducted.

Forklift operators and pickers, also in service for more than 10 years, who are in-charge of loading and unloading products for delivery work on a 12-hour shift from 6am to 6pm, receive only 3 hours worth of overtime pay. Lunch breaks are limited, where workers are often pressured to finish their lunch within 30 minutes. They are required to explain for any minute in excess.

The absence of health and safety standards such as the company’s obligation in providing restrooms is also one of the workers’ main issues. Company clinics are unable to provide for their medical needs, and ill workers are forced to work and sent a ‘notice to explain’ once unable to perform and reach their quota.

On July 18, 2012, the union filed a Petition for Certification Election for workers under the Red System agency.

On January 14, 2013, Department of Labor and Employment Bureau of Labor Relations IV-A Med Arbiter Tiongzon declared all workers under the Red System as regular employees of Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. Concurrently, Tiongzon granted the workers’ petition for a Certification Election.

On February 5, 2013, the union received copies of the exchange of letters and communication between Romeo Montefalco, DoLE Intramuros OIC, and Alex Avila, DoLE IVA Director which resulted to the illegal transmittal of UMDFP-CCBPI-IND’s Petition for Certification Election to the DoLE Office of the Secretary, where Baldoz, a notorious anti-worker official resides in power. As a result, the PCE was dismissed, and the workers were then again considered as contractual employees under the Red System Agency.

Subsequently, the management reduced the number of company trucks used by union members from 121 to 62. Fabricated charges were increasingly filed against union members and officers.

Despite the granted PCE being a non-appealable case, Federation of Free Workers, which directs the union under the Red System agency where Sta. Rosa plant workers have never become members, filed a motion for intervention to prevent the forming of the new union. Also, signing bonus offers worth P30,000 to encourage workers to join their union instead.

“While Coca Cola has continuously portrayed an environment-friendly and consumer-friendly image via television ads worth millions of pesos, we [the workers] have been deprived of our very basic rights to just and living wages, health and safety standards, security of tenure, and organization. We have made the best use of all legal remedies and options, but apparently, the Department of Labor and Employment, the management, the Red System Agency, and the yellow Federation of Free Workers are conniving and are by all means denying us of our rights—substituting legal processes with unlawful measures.”

“To everyone who patronizes Coca Cola products, please remember the workers who toil day and night, put out their sweat and blood to deliver these products. As you drink each glass of Coke and quench your thirst, please remember those who thirst for their rights, those who thirst for justice—the workers who thirst for life.”

“We are not surprised at how the DoLE contrives with Coca Cola in engineering a systematic suppression of workers’ rights. This further heightens our resentment at such a rotten capitalist system where workers are always on the losing end. We are all fed up with Coca Cola’s greed and cruelty, and we know our strike is the only way to save our dignity. We will defend our ranks no matter what.” Ended Avellino.###

 

Welga ng mga manggagawa ng Coca Cola-Sta Rosa, ipinutok

“Ang welga ang pinakamataas na porma ng pampulitikang  pagkilos ng mga manggagawa laban sa mga mapagsamantalang uri upang ipaglaban ang sahod, trabaho at karapatan.” Ani Hermie Marasigan, Tagapagsalita ng Pagakakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK – KMU).

ganito_kami_sa_coke_walang_happinessInilunsad ng mga manggagawang Driver, Hauler, Fork Lift Operator at Picker sa Coca–Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc.-Sta. Rosa plant ang welga bilang kanilang pinakamataas na pagkilos upang ipanawagan ang sahod, kaseguruhan sa trabaho at  pagkilala sa kanilang unyon; at upang ilantad ang naging sabwatan ng kapitalistang Coca-Cola, DoLE at dilawang Federation of Free Workers.

Ipinanawagan din ng mga manggagawa ang  pagsuporta ng lahat ng mga tagatangkilik ng produkto ng Coca–Cola na suportahan ang laban ng mga manggagawa.

Ipinutok ng mahigit 300 manggagawa at tagasuporta ang welga sa ganap na ika–4 ng umaga sa harapan mismo ng planta ng Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Bitbit ng mga manggagawa ang kanilang mga plakard at streamer na may panawagan para sa sahod, kaseguruhan sa trabaho at pagkilala sa kanilang itinatayong unyon.

Bilang hudyat ng pagputok ng welga, kinandado at hinarangan ng mga manggagawa ang apat na gate ng planta upang pigilan ang paglabas ng mga produkto. Tuloy-tuloy na hinikayat ang humigit kumulang 1000 manggagawa na nasa production upang makiisa sa  inilulunsad na welga ng mga Driver, Hauler, Fork Lift Operator at Picker.

Nagsumite ng Notice of Strike ang mga manggagawang nagwelga noong March 22, 2013 dahil sa mga kaso ng paglabag ng kompanya o Unfair Labor Practice.

April 10, 2013 nang inilunsad ang stike voting, kung saan 262 mula sa 267 bumoto ang sumang-ayon sa pangangailangang iputok ang welga bilang sagot sa pambabalahura ng kumpanya sa mga karapatan ng manggagawa.

 Naudlot na Certification Election

Noong July 18, 2012, nagsumite ang Unyon ng mga Manggagawang Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker sa Sta. Rosa CCBPI-Independent ng Petition for Certification Election (PCE) para sa mga manggagawang nakapailalim sa Red System agency.

Matapos ang ilang palitan ng mga position paper ng magkabilang panig (management at unyon), naglabas ng desisyon si Med-Arbiter Tiongzon ng DoLE-BLR IV-A noong January 14, 2013 na nagdedeklarang regular na empleyado ng Coca- Cola Bottlers Phils., Inc.-Sta. Rosa ang 430 manggagawa na nasa ilalim  ng Red System. Kaakibat ng desisyon ang order hinggil sa paglulunsad ng CE ng mga manggagawa.

Mula noon, lalong tumindi ang paggigipit na naranasan ng mga kasapi at opisyales ng unyon.

Mula sa 121, 62 binawasan ang mga company truck na ginagamit ng mga kasapi ng unyon. Naging malawakan din ang pagkakaso  sa mga opisyales  at maging sa mga aktibong kasapi ng itinatayong unyon. Nag-hire ng mga panibagong forklift operator ang CCBPI upang siguraduhing tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang ibubulsang kita sa kabila ng nagaganap na labor dispute.

Sa kabila ng pagiging non-appealable ng order hinggil sa paglulunsad ng CE ng mga unorganized establishment (i.e. mga manggagawang driver, hauler, forklift operator, at picker sa ilalim ng Red System) ayon sa Department Order 40 Section 17, nagsumite ng apila ang CCBPI at Red System agency sa DoLE.

Noong February 5, mahigit dalawang linggo matapos ilabas ang desisyong pabor sa mga manggagawa, nakatanggap ang unyon ng kopya ng liham ni Romeo Montefalco, Jr., Officer in Charge-Director ng BLR sa Intramuros, Manila kay DoLE-IVA Regional Director Alex Avila hinggil sa paglilipat ng folder ng PCE sa tanggapan ng DoLE sa Intramuros, Manila.

Nakatanggap din ang unyon ng kopya ng endorsement ni Avila hinggil sa paglilipat ng kaso ng mga manggagawa ng Coca Cola sa nasabing tanggapan.

Sa kabila ng pagiging iligal ng paglilipat ng kaso ng mga manggagawang nagfile ng PCE, nagkaroon ng mga hearing batay sa apila ng CCBPI at Red System sa mga sumunod na araw, kung saan binaliktad ang desisyon ng Med Arbiter sa DoLE-BLR IV-A.

“Malinaw sa naging desisyon ng DoLE-BLR IV-A na ang 430 manggagawa sa ilalim ng Red System ay mga regular na empleyado ng Coca Cola, at marapat lamang na pahintulutang magkaroon ng CE para sa pagtatayo ng kanilang unyon. Ito na sana ang magbibigay daan para sa pagkakaroon ng mabungang CBA sa kapakinabangan ng mga manggagawa. Ngunit sa pagkakataong ito, muli na naman ipinakita ng DoLE ang kanyang kawalang hiyaan at pagiging tuta ng mga kapitalista sa panahong mayroong labor dispute.” Ayon kay Marasigan.

 Panghihimasok ng dilawang FFW

Matapos maglabas ng desisyong pabor sa manggagawa ang DoLE-BLR IV A hinggil sa PCE, nag-file din ng motion for intervention ang Federation of Free Workers upang pigilan ang naging desisyon.

“Nakisawsaw na pati ang FFW, na kilalang dilawang pederasyon na instrumento din ng mga kapitalista upang bulagin at pigilan ang mga manggagawang itayo ang kanilang tunay na unyon. Ngunit hindi nagpalinlang ang mga manggagawa sa ganitong iskema ng kapitalista, kasabwat ang mga dilawan, upang patahimikin ang mga manggagawa sa pamamagitan ng mga binabarat at hindi makatwirang Collective Bargaining Agreement.” Ani Marasigan.

Bagama’t mayroong nakatayong unyon ng mga manggagawa sa ilalim ng Red System sa buong bansa, hindi ito nilahukan at inaniban ng mga manggagawa sa Sta. Rosa plant kung kaya’t nananatiling walang unyon ang mga manggagawa ng Red System sa nasabing planta.

 Paninindigan ng mga manggagawa

“Ang sabwatang DoLE-Coke-FFW-Red System, ang panggigipit na nararanasan ng mga manggagawa ng CCBPI, at ang determinasyon na ipagtanggol ang kanilang mga lehitimong karapatan ang nagtulak sa mga manggagawa na ilunsad ang welga bilang pinakamataas na porma ng pampulitikang pagkilos laban sa matinding pagsasamantala ng kapitalistang Coca Cola.”

“Simple lang ang hinihiling ng mga manggagawang nakawelga—nakabubuhay na sahod, benepisyo, at regular na empleyo kapalit ng kanilang pagpapagal sa multinasyunal na kumpanyang humuhuthot ng bilyon-bilyong piso mula sa lakas-paggawa ng mga manggagawang Pilipino araw-araw. Ngunit hanggang sa kahuli-hulihan, matapos maideklarang lehitimo ang kanilang mga panawagan, nagagawa pa itong manipulahin at baliktarin ng DoLE, sa pangunguna ni Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz at Undersecretary Rebecca Chato.”

“Ang welgang ito ay hindi lamang para sa mga kasapi ng unyon, kundi sa lahat ng manggagawa ng Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. na tuloy-tuloy na nakakaranas ng kawalan ng nakabubuhay na sahod, benepisyo, at kaseguruhan sa trabaho. Higit pa rito, ang welgang ito ay laban ng buong uring manggagawa na naghahangad wakasan ang mapagsamantalang sistemang kapitalista. Walang katumbas na halaga sa salapi ang laban na ito, sapagkat tanging ang pagkamit sa mga karapatan ang ultimong hinahangad ng mga manggagawa.” Dagdag ni Marasigan.

Mula April 27 hanggang May 2, binigyan ng mga seminar ang mga forklift operators at pilit na pinapaanib ang mga ito sa unyon sa ilalim ng FFW, kapalit ang P30000 signing bonus.

“Buong giting na hinaharap ng mga manggagawang driver, hauler, forklift operator, at picker sa CCBPI-Sta Rosa ang hamon na ipagtagumpay ang welga—dahil sa kabila ng magandang imahe na ipinapakita ng dambuhalang kapitalistang ito sa pamamagitan ng mga milyon-pisong halagang mga patalastas, nananatiling walang happiness ang mga manggagawang lumilikha ng mga produktong pinagkakakitaan nito.” Pagtatapos ni Marasigan.###