With Alejandro John

New Collective

Agreement Signed


Within the framework of a complex social context for Panamanian workers, the Industrial Union of Soft Drink, Beverage, Soda, Beer, Liquor and Similar Beverage Production and Distribution Workers (SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS), reached a new and positive Collective Bargaining Agreement. Sirel discussed with Alejandro John, general secretary of the Union, the scope of this new Agreement and the fluent development of negotiations for the first time ever with Coca Cola – FEMSA.



-When was the agreement signed and how did the negotiation process evolve?

-The bargaining process began on 8 June and was concluded on 22 July, the Agreement will be effective for a two-year period and substantially improved some items of the previous Agreement. It is worth mentioning that for the first time we reached an agreement with  Coca Cola FEMSA with such a short negotiation period.


-Why do you consider that the development of this negotiation was this way?

-I think Coca Cola FEMSA, taking into account its favorable position in the Panamanian market, did not want any type of conflict. This is why management agreed to a swift negotiation process, so that it maintains its superiority in the carbonated beverage market of the country and continues with its present high productivity.


-What benefits of this Collective Agreement would you highlight?

-One of our main achievements was the inclusion of a clause on the outsourced labor force.  The Agreement stipulates that all and work permanently developed within the company must be done by direct employees of the company.  The company can only hire outsourced workers for fortuitous events (big season) and for a period not longer than two months.


In connection with wages, a 4.5 percent increase for all categories was reached, and also a compulsory day off for all workers of the company was agreed for Sundays.


-What was it like to negotiate within the present context brought about by Law 30?

-In spite of the situation being faced by Panamanian workers due to the implementation of this law that adversely affects all the wins of the union movement and directly attacks labor rights,


in this negotiation, we managed to keep the discount of union dues and maintain 8-hour work day, and 7 and a half hours for night shifts, where the company is bound to pay overtime for all hours in excess of that, leaving aside the new law which would make every worker available to the company up to twelve hours.


-What is your assessment of the new agreement?

-In general terms it is a good Collective Agreement, which improved various social clauses, increasing several benefits which means a substantial improvement as compared with the previous CBA.


We were positively surprised both in terms of the negotiation process and the benefits reached. I think that FEMSA also realized that it is easier this way, that the Union is a reality and that we can also substantially contribute when dialogue is honest and democratic.



In Montevideo, Amalia Antúnez


August 16, 2010






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