Put the Fizz Back in Jobs at Coke

“Every time you open a bottle of Coca-Cola, please remind the company to respect workers’ rights,” this is the plea made by Coca-Cola union leaders this morning during a press conference. They are asking the patrons of the soft drink giant to support their struggle against employment policies that destroys regular jobs.

The union leaders explained how the Coca-Cola Philippines is systematically replacing regular jobs with contractual workers. Apart from promoting early retirement program, the company is aggressively outsourcing many of its regular jobs. More recently, Coca-Cola imposed a program called P3 or Performance, Participation and Presence that consigns thousands of workers and their families who depend on decent wages from regular, unionized jobs to a bleak future.

“Contrary to the bright and dazzling future portrayed by multi-million dollar Coke advertisements, we workers are now confronted by a bleak future – a future of punishments and penalties, without negotiated wages, without job security,” Fred Marañon, spokesperson of Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions in the Philippines (ACCUP) and president of Coca-Cola San Fernando Rank and File Union, said.  “This is not the future we signed up for,” he added.

Marañon explained that the P3 program lacks any consideration of fairness and equity in wages and wage increases and that it removes workers’ hard-won protection against arbitrary and unfair punishment or dismissal as well as protection against discrimination. More importantly, it precludes the use of grievance procedures in questioning the penalties that are imposed to those who ‘fails’ the performance appraisals.

“In other words, Coca-Cola’s P3 program is missing an important ‘P’ – the welfare of its own PEOPLE,” Marañon emphatically said.

Ironically, this labor row comes at a time when Coca-Cola is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It also comes at a time when Coca-Cola Philippines is up for sale by The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC). It has been reported that Coca-Cola FEMSA from Mexico is looking at the possibility of buying Coca-Cola Philippines and has sent a team to the Philippines to look at the company’s assets.

“We wonder if FEMSA is aware of the massive demoralization now sweeping Coke workers?”, Marañon said.

The union leaders vowed to step up their campaign against Coca-Cola’s anti-worker and anti-union policies. “We will not stop until P3 is scrapped so that Coca-Cola Bottling Company is once again ‘a great place to work’,” the ACCUP leaders declared.


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