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
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
-What benefits of this Collective Agreement would you
-One of our main achievements was the inclusion of a
clause on the outsourced labor force.
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.