Mérida, January 18th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday was the fourth day of a strike in a bottling and distribution plant of Coca-Cola Femsa in Carabobo state. Workers are demanding a fair collective agreement, pay rises, food tickets, and a dining room.
The 1,230 workers began the strike at 6pm on Friday. According to Alexander Cedeno, president of the disciplinary tribunal of the plant, the workers haven’t had a collective agreement since 1 June last year, AVN reported.
Cedeno said the company had increased its prices of beverages fourfold, but had not increased workers’ wages. Workers at the plant earn Bs 78 per day (US$ 18) and are asking for a Bs 45 (US$ 10.46 ) increase.
According to El Universal, Venezuela’s Labor Ministry authorised the strike and Marcela Maspero, leader of the National Union of Workers (Unete), also said the strike was legal, as workers had complied with all the steps required to initiate a strike, as established in the Work Law. She also said Unete was behind the workers.
The company said in a press release that it had offered a wage increase above the 2010 inflation and that it was concerned about the “25 million” people of the country (sic-Venezuela’s population is 29 million) being able to buy the product and about economic losses.
Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela said it would “continue working with the authorities of the Labor Ministry and social security to reach an agreement.”
In 2008 nearly 5,000 former Coca-Cola workers blockaded bottling facilities to demand compensation after they were laid off. The layoffs came in 2003 after Mexican firm Femsa took over the Venezuelan operations from Panamco.
Coca-Cola Femsa is currently the largest bottler of Coca-Cola in Latin America.