[Marxism] LABOUR ALERTS: Don't Let Coke Fire Union Workers in Colombia!

eugene eugene at union.org.za
Sat Jul 24 03:23:20 MDT 2004


Take a minute to send solidarity messages on these campaigns:

Don't Let Coke Fire Union Workers in Colombia!

July 22, 2004

[Information for this alert comes from unionvoice.org and 
United Students Against Sweatshops ]

Call Coca-Cola Now! Demand the End of Union Busting, 
Intimidation and Murder! 

Call or write Coke's Chief Executive Officer Neville 
Isdell today!

Recently the Social Protection Ministry of Colombia 
granted Coca-Cola's bottler Coca-Cola FEMSA permission to 
dismiss 63 workers from Coke's bottling plants, half of 
whom are members of SINALTRAINAL, the Colombian food and 
beverage union. In order to carry out the firings, 
Coca-Cola FEMSA will request that union protection be 
removed from the 31 union leaders. This means that in less 
than two months the union could be completely eliminated 
from Coke's plants and these workers could be forced out 
of their jobs without security protection! The union is 
concerned that as soon as their members are no longer 
employed by Coke, there will be another string of murders 
by paramilitaries who are reluctant to kill union leaders 
as long as they continue to be employed by Coke because 
"their deaths would create problems for the company."

SINALTRAINAL is asking that people in the United States 
and abroad put as much pressure as possible on Coke right 
now! The World Social Forum declared today to be the 
International Day of Action Against Coca-Cola, marking the 
one-year anniversary of the launching of the International 
Campaign Against Coca-Cola. Please take action today, in 
solidarity with actions around the world, to demand that 
Coke stop its violent union busting, and protect its 
workers' right to the freedom of association.  

On behalf of the workers and their families, please send a 
strong message to The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola 
FEMSA in Colombia on today's international day of action. 
Please call Coke's Chief Executive Officer Neville Isdell 
at (404) 676-2121 today!

Sample phone script:

"Hello, my name is ______________. I demand that you do 
not allow Coca-Cola FEMSA to dismiss the 63 SINALTRAINAL 
workers at your Colombian bottling plants and stop the 
continued union busting campaign. Additionally, Coke must 
respect the right to organize of everyone involved in 
producing its product and assure a stop to the campaign of 
murder and intimidation against its Colombian bottlers. I 
am appalled that this situation has persisted and that 
Coke has not made strong steps to ensure the safety and 
freedom of its employees. I expect Coca-Cola to ensure 
that the union workers are not dismissed, that all 
bottlers and Coke employees are guaranteed the right to 
organize, and that the horrific killing and intimidation 
stop." 

Sample Letter: 

To fax a letter go to: 
http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/cokefirings/dwwu664qk5i6n

Or send this letter by regular mail to: 

Chief Executive Officer Neville Isdell 
The Coca-Cola Company, 
P.O. Box 1734, Atlanta, GA 30301

Subject: Don't Let Coca-Cola FEMSA Dismiss Dozens of 
Workers!

Dear Mr. Isdell,

I am writing to you in protest of the action being taken 
by your related company, Coca-Cola FEMSA in Colombia, to 
dismiss 63 workers, among them 31 leaders of SINALTRAINAL 
(National Food Workers Union). SINALTRAINAL sees this as a 
violation of Articles 18 and 91 of their collective 
bargaining agreement under which the workers must be 
relocated to other positions or transferred to other 
plants. We see this as violating the internationally 
recognized right of workers to freedom of association and 
nothing more than a move to completely eliminate the union 
in Coca-Cola FEMSA. 

Your company has already pressured more than 500 workers 
from their employment. A prolonged reign of paramilitary 
terror at Coca-Cola has resulted in nine workers being 
killed, and 67 placed under death threat. Many have 
suffered attempted murder, kidnappings, forced 
displacement and deadly attacks on their families. The 
company is also allegedly implicated in the burning of a 
union office by Paramilitaries. Such are the issues 
involved in the suit filed by SINALTRAINAL in the Southern 
District Court of Florida against the Coca-Cola bottlers. 

Responding to the current attempt to destroy the Union, 
one SINALTRAINAL leader warned, "If we lose the fight 
against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our 
jobs and then our lives." The truth of that statement may 
be imminent. Another Union leader now personally states 
that if the firings take place and the union is broken, 
"it makes things very complicated for me - in terms of my 
security. This decision removes any political cost to the 
paramilitaries who would assassinate me." 

Your company must stop the union busting, observe the 
workers' right to belong to their union, stop the 
arbitrary dismissals and put a stop to the reign of 
paramilitary terror. We implore you to discontinue this 
prelude to a tragedy. 

If this union-busting scheme plays out, the blood of the 
workers will be on company hands and will stain the famous 
trademark of Coca-Cola wherever the product is marketed. 
The world is watching. 

Sincerely,

****************************

Background:

What's At Stake

Over the past decade nine union leaders at Coca-Cola 
bottling plants have been killed in Colombia in connection 
with union negotiations. Most recently, this past April, 
two members of Coca-Cola union leader Efrain Guerrero's 
family were killed in their home while union negotiations 
were taking place. Additionally, paramilitary groups 
routinely intimidate union members and their families. By 
not insuring the safety of the workers in its bottling 
plants, Coke is complicit in the string of murders, 
torture, and kidnappings affecting its employees.

SINALTRAINAL has fought for years to improve the working 
conditions and lives of workers in Coke's Colombian 
bottling plants. This recent decision could be a 
devastating blow to the struggle against Coke, and to 
workers' freedom of association. We must act strongly 
today and send a clear message to Coca-Cola: we won't 
stand for union busting and murder.

Campaign for Labor Rights supports SINALTRAINAL's call for 
Coca-Cola FEMSA to halt plans to dismiss the 63 workers 
from Coke's bottling plants. Additionally, Coke must 
ensure the protection of the lives and rights of all of 
their employees. CLR demands that Coca-Cola halt the 
removal of SINALTRAINAL workers from its Colombian 
bottling plants and that Coke stop the killing and 
intimidation of its workers!

William Mendoza, the President of SINALTRAINAL writes:

The judicial system in this country is now making its 
decisions based on politics rather than the law. The most 
likely outcome is that Coca-Cola (with its economic, 
political, and legal power) will apply pressure so that 
the decision comes out in its favor and it can dismiss the 
union leaders. This will then conclude the greatest infamy 
against an organization that struggles to improve the 
conditions of workers and in favor of the human rights of 
all Colombians. 

We're calling on all our comrades in the struggle, 
nationally and internationally, to support us in this 
difficult confrontation with one of the most violent and 
bloodthirsty corporations. We're calling on you to 
participate on July 22 - which was declared (by the World 
Social Forum) an international day of action against 
Coca-Cola. We're also asking that you protest to the U.S. 
embassy about the policies of this company that is a 
symbol of American empire and implements the scorched 
earth policies in these countries. 

Once again, we're glad that you're with us. 
Hasta la Victoria Siempre 
William Mendoza, President SINALTRAINAL





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