In a major victory against the climate of fear created by “red-tagging”, more Coca-Cola workers in the Philippines have voted in favour of independent, democratic trade unions to defend their rights and interests.

On 21 July 2021, over 200 workers at two Coca-Cola bottling plants in Davao voted overwhelmingly in favour of SAMACOKE, the union affiliated to FCCU that is a member of the national trade union center SENTRO and IUF.

In a concerted effort to remove genuine, democratic trade unions from bottling plants and distribution centers across the Philippines, the local management of Coca-Cola Philippines created COCBLU in 2019. Newly employed Coca-Cola logistics workers were the first to be forced to sign up as members of COCBLU, often signing membership papers as a condition of their employment.

When the new campaign of fear through “red tagging” commenced, Coca-Cola management saw an opportunity to impose COCBLU on workers with the help of the military and police.

In voting against the management-controlled COCBLU on 21 July, workers demonstrated tremendous courage and conviction. It was not only a rejection of the intimidation and bullying that workers normally face with management-controlled unions. It was a courageous stand against months of ruthless intimidation by the police force and fear created by “red-tagging”.

The IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary sent a message of congratulations to the members of SAMACOKE in Davao, praising them for their courage and declaring, “Until now red-tagging has been a war on worker and trade union rights. Through lies, disinformation, manipulation and intimidation, the government and ruthless employers have tried to determine which unions workers can choose to join. The SAMACOKE victory shows that workers still have a choice. It is a choice that is fundamental to protecting their jobs and livelihoods. It is a choice of dignity over fear. Dignity won today.”