Banditry and exploitation


Everywhere, the onslaught from transnational corporations is trampling union rights, violating collective bargaining agreements, harassing workers to force them to meet targets that harm their bodies and their human dignity, and causing a steady elimination of jobs. The more they grow, the more market share they control, the more freedom they have to play unrestrained after devouring the competition, the more arrogant and violent they become.


Their antidemocratic and antiunion practices are spreading throughout the region, and with the exception of some labor organizations, nobody puts any limits to their actions. What happens is that these powerful corporations, in combination with other neoliberal players, plus the diet imposed by “the invisible hand of the market,” have sucked the State so dry that if in a rare occasion it dares to make an appearance, it presents such a weakened front that nobody even takes it into account.


Last week the Union of Beverage and Related Industry Workers (STIBYS) held a press conference to report on the obstinate antiunion policy deployed by SABMiller, which in Honduras has a strategic alliance with Coca-Cola. Less than six months after signing the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the transnational corporation unjustly and illegally fired Leonel Arqueta Moreno, Joab Orlando Zelaya Vázquez and Nelson Eliberto López Reyes, and penalized René Javier Campos Lara and José Luis Bonilla Manzanares. Except for Joab Orlando Zelaya, the rest of the laid-off workers are all union leaders.


According to STIBYS, these layoffs are not only in violation of the National Constitution, the Code of Labor and the Collective Agreement, they are also a direct attack on union freedom, “because these workers are fired or penalized for their labor activism,” the union asserted.


Together with STIBYS, these Sales Department workers opportunely complained about the shortage of personnel in the production centers, and warned that the number of trucks was inadequate and that many were in need of repair. That is why on high sales days, vehicles are overloaded, and workers are also pushed beyond their capacity, and if they don’t meet customer orders, they’re suspended or their job contracts are cancelled.


SABMiller’s aim is to impose a nonstop work regime: being an employee of this corporation is tantamount to being permanently on call. In the eyes of the transnational corporation, workers must understand once and for all that their existence is determined by the corporation.


Lastly, with respect to the National Constitution, the Code of Labor and the Collective Agreement, SABMiller and its ally Coca-Cola apparently agree with the Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who declared that “laws were made to be broken.”


Gerardo Iglesias
July 17, 2008




Illustration: Rel-UITA



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