Venezuela unionists occupy Pepsi plant

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Tue Jul 15 20:05:07 MDT 2003

Signs of new upsurge of confidence by workers, as revolutionary
process continues in the country that has become Cuba's best friend in
Americas since Grenada President Maurice Bishop was murdered in 1983.
Fred Feldman



On July 9 employees took over a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in
Villa de Cura, southwest of Caracas in Venezuela's Aragua state.
The workers and their union charged that the company, part of
Venezuela's Grupo Polar, had plans to close the plant and lay off
hundreds of employees in an effort to eliminate an exceptionally
militant union. The workers called on other sectors to come to
the plant to express their solidarity. Villa de Cura mayor
Estefano Magione backed the workers, saying that the company was
behind on paying local taxes and had a record of pollution and of
stealing water from the municipality.

Although the company claims to be in an economic crisis, Magione
charged that management threw out 600,000 cases of soft drinks
last December in support of a nationwide civic strike against
Venezuela's left-populist president Hugo Chavez Frias. [The
workers seized the plant at the time to keep the owners from
shutting it down in observation of the strike; see Update #671.]
As of the afternoon of July 9, union members were negotiating
with a panel of judges that came to the plant accompanied by a
management representative. [APORREA from Indymedia Colombia

In nearby San Juan de Los Morros, Guarico state, 46 of about 100
workers took over the Industrias Textiles Fenix textile factory
in the summer of 2002, when the owner closed the plant after
failing to pay taxes, social security and benefits for the
workers. The workers were still occupying the plant as of April
of this year, supporting themselves with odd jobs. With advice
from the Aragua Textile Union, the workers were pressuring the
government of Guarico state, which produces cotton, to advance
raw material to restart production at the plant. The workers
cited the "experience of Argentina" as a model for workers' self-
management at bankrupted or abandoned plants [see Updates #690].
[APORREA from Indymedia Colombia 4/30/03]

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