Coca-Cola Philippines workers ask: “Hey Coke, are We Essential Or Worthless?”

Coca-Cola Philippines workers ask: “Hey Coke, are We Essential Or Worthless?”

After 17 months of being compelled to work as essential industry workers, Coca-Cola workers in the Philippines are apparently now worthless. Management in the Philippines is refusing union demands for fair wage increases despite members working hard as essential workers throughout the pandemic.

The value of workers’ lives is also in doubt as Coca-Cola Philippines refuses to reinstate three trade union leaders – Alfredo Marañon, Belarmino Tulabut, and Danilo Pineda – who were unfairly terminated 17 months ago for responding to workers’ concerns about workplace safety.

As FCCU-SENTRO-IUF members across the Philippines launch mass protests and prepare for strike action, they are calling on Coca-Cola to recognize their efforts as essential workers by engaging in good faith wage bargaining that provides fair wage increases. To bring attention to their protest Coca-Cola workers are wearing face masks that read: “Hey Coke are we essential or not?”

 

Coca-Cola Philippines: REINSTATE Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda NOW!

Coca-Cola Philippines: REINSTATE Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda NOW!

The campaign for the reinstatement of unfairly terminated union leaders at Coca-Cola Philippines continues to escalate nationally. Union members have sponsored a new billboard along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) from Manila to Pampanga. The billboard reads: “Save Coke Workers! CCBPI, REINSTATE Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda NOW!”

As the country locked down on March 15, 2020, and restrictions on movement were imposed, workers at the Coca-Cola plant in San Fernando, Pampanga province, were deeply concerned over the risk of infection following the death of a workers’ close relative to whom he had been exposed. In an emergency union meeting in the changing room on March 28, union leaders urged workers to comply with the government recommendations and stay home if they feared exposure or contaminating others, stating that they would respect workers’ individual decisions. Instead of recognizing these legitimate concerns over occupational exposure to COVID-19, management took disciplinary action against three union leaders, Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda.

Despite the fact that the right of workers to remove themselves from hazardous or dangerous situations without fear of punishment is protected under ILO Convention No.155, management ignored this right and terminated Fred Marañon, Jhun Tulabut and Dan Pineda for “economic sabotage”. Their termination was clearly an act of retribution by management against the local union and against Fred Marañon as the National President of the beverage workers’ federation, FCCU-SENTRO-IUF.

Coca-Cola Philippines workers demand reinstatement of union leaders in June 2020

COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign for women farm workers in Pakistan

COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign for women farm workers in Pakistan

The IUF-affiliated Sindh Nari Porhyat Council [SNPC], a union of women agricultural workers, made tremendous progress last year in promoting COVID-19 awareness and safety protocols. The distribution of masks and posters in Sindhi on the proper use of masks helped to improve occupational health and safety on farms and public health in rural communities.

This year SNPC continued its COVID-19 awareness campaign by focusing on vaccine awareness. Through education sessions in fields and communities SNPC leaders tackled misinformation, mistrust and unequal access. SNPC has been successful in mobilizing women farm workers in July 2021 to assert their right to be vaccinated.

“Vaccination is necessary to protect our families and community. It is our right. We have been campaigning for health rights including the right to safe drinking water for so long. This is just part of the same struggle,” said Abida Khaskheli, a member of the SNPC Youth Committee from Sultanabad.

promoting COVID-19 vaccination among young agricultural workers in India

promoting COVID-19 vaccination among young agricultural workers in India

In Gujarat, India, young members of the Gujarat Agricultural Labour Union (GALU) are vaccinated in Panchmahal district, a tribal district with high level of vaccine hesitancy.

GALU’s youth organization Tarvariya Tarun Sangathan (TSS), which also runs its school of democracy and governance, is leading the COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign among young farm workers. This is supported by the special contribution of the United Workers Union (UWU) in Australia through the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Solidarity Fund.

 

 

Essential food workers at General Mills strike for decent pay, secure jobs

Essential food workers at General Mills strike for decent pay, secure jobs

After working hard throughout the pandemic as essential food industry workers, members of the IUF-affiliated United Workers Union (UWU) are on strike for decent wages and fair treatment.

For workers at the General Mills factory in Rooty Hill in New South Wales, Australia, there is no recognition or reward for their hard work or long hours as essential food industry workers making brands like Old El Paso Mexican Food and Latina Fresh Pasta. This includes casual workers working for more than five years in insecure jobs. Despite being essential in the pandemic, General Mills is refusing to make them permanent.

Yet in its announcement to investors in March this year, it was very clear that all this hard work created value for shareholders:
“In Europe and Australia, third quarter organic net sales grew 7%, primarily driven by growth in Old El Paso Mexican Food and Haagen-Dazs retail ice cream.”
All this contributed to the 8% increase in global sales to USD 4.5 billion last year, with a 27 % increase in operating profit at USD 827 million. Global management told investors that “Mexican food” in the Australian market offers “the greatest potential for growth”.

Despite contributing to this sales growth and profit through their hard work, workers in Australia are being denied a fair wage.

IUF affiliates are mobilizing to support the strike at General Mills in Rooty Hill.

Click here to sign the petition!

 

 

After paying out 100% of profits to “loyal shareholders”, Naga World Hotel Casino terminates over 1,300 workers who worked through the pandemic

After paying out 100% of profits to “loyal shareholders”, Naga World Hotel Casino terminates over 1,300 workers who worked through the pandemic

After months of ignoring union calls to improve COVID-19 safety measures, Cambodia’s largest hotel leisure resort Naga World Hotel Casino announced the mass redundancy of over 1,300 workers for “business reasons”. The mass retrenchment includes over 600 union members and union leaders – including the union president, vice president and general secretary.

Only 18 months ago the union president Sithar Chhim was reinstated after strike action by union members against her unfair dismissal in September 2019. Now Sithar Chhim has been terminated again, along with union vice president Sokha Chun and union general secretary Sokhorn Chhim.

The integrated hotel casino resort is owned by the Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp which declares itself to be “one of the world’s most profitable gaming companies, and the largest gaming entertainment company in the Mekong Region.” On March 8, 2021 – exactly a month before the announcement of mass layoffs on April 8 – NagaCorp announced a USD 102 million profit and that 100% of the profits for the second half of 2020 will be paid out to “loyal” shareholders:

“As a reward to the Shareholders who believe in the long-term growth of the Group despite today’s difficult times and in order to alleviate any sufferings, if any, of these loyal Shareholders who have stayed on faithfully with us during the COVID-19 crisis, the Board has recommended an unprecedented 100% dividend payout of net profits generated for the second half of 2020 as final dividend for the year ended 31 December 2020.”
While millions were paid to shareholders for their loyalty, workers who worked throughout the pandemic received nothing for their loyalty. Instead the company chose to slash the jobs of over 1,300 workers. Unlike the company’s concern to “alleviate any sufferings” of shareholders, it created suffering for these workers and their families.
Under the guise of “consultation” management met with the union to announce its Rationalization Plan, but refused to explain why mass redundancy was the only option. Management also refused to explain how workers were chosen for redundancy.
Although management claims that the job roles of 1,300 workers will no longer exist, over 700 casual workers in insecure jobs will be re-deployed to fill these roles. Similarly, management’s assertion that job cuts are due automation hide the fact that the company deliberately accelerated its plans to introduce new technologies, displacing workers in a pandemic.

After years of refusing to recognize the right of the union to represent its members, management declared that any negotiation over redundancies would be individual not through the union, leaving each worker alone without any representation to be bullied by a multibillion dollar company. Without representation, information or options, and facing economic hardship after months of reduced wages, hundreds of workers were compelled to accept “voluntary” redundancy.

More than 600 union members refused redundancy and are demanding the right to negotiate the terms and conditions of restructuring through their union. Having already terminated the union leadership, management refuses to negotiate.

Over 2,000 union members have signed a mass petition to be submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training as a formal complaint, demanding reinstatement and an end rights violations and forced redundancies.