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Union Busting in Colombia

Question by Jeffrey Wright

Mr. Kent, I want to know: Is it the unanimous policy of the Board to continue to bust unions in Colombia by outsourcing or subcontracting, a scheme to turn employees into non-employees?

The vast majority of Coke workers in Colombia who wear Coke uniforms, drive Coke trucks, work in Coke plants and help make huge profits for Coke are subcontracted workers. These workers receive minimal pay, meager, if any, benefits, are fired if they try to join a union, have no job security and are very unhappy about their working conditions.

In April 2007, 16 subcontracted Coke workers were fired for joining SINALTRAINAL <> , the Colombian food workers union. This was a warning to all subcontracted workers in the Coca-Cola System: You have no rights! Do not join a union!

Let me read the translation of a statement made by SINALTRAINAL President Javier Correa in December 2010:

"On December 18, 2010, the police entered the Coca-Cola bottler in the city of Medellin, authorized by the president of Coca-Cola. They entered with armored tanks, shields, firing weapons with chemical fumes, intimidating and pressuring the subcontracted workers who were protesting. They militarized the dispute and forced workers to desist and accept verbal commitment of the multinational that promised to resolve the conflict, but simultaneously the workers were notified of their dismissal. Since then, the police remain in the Coca-Cola bottling plant, 24 hours a day, terrorizing workers...

He goes on to say:

"Trampling on human rights, violating freedom of association and placing the lives of workers in jeopardy is done with the complicity of the authorities."

In the film, "The Coca-Cola Case," two Colombian workers were asked:

"Are you unionized?"

"No. You can't join the union or you'll be fired."

"How much did you make today?"

"15 dollars for 15 hours."

Mr. Kent, how can you allow these conditions to continue in your bottling plants in Colombia.

Watch Wright ask the question and listen to Muhtar Kent's responset: