With Hidayat Greenfield

International Campaign due to conflict

in Coca Cola - Pakistan


The night before a big demonstration, Sirel interviewed Hidayat Greenfield, IUF Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Region, about the conflict and the International Campaign.


- How did this conflict begin?

-The key of all this is that Coca Cola refused to recognize the democratic union formed at the Multan plant in June last year and reacted with threats against the union officers. The union president, who is a truck driver, was forcibly transferred to a very distant route while other union officers were terminated.


Through IUF intervention and through international negotiations, we had the union officers reinstated. But the reason why this has gone on so long comes down to a key issue of illegal employment arrangements in the factory.  And the key issue there is that Coca Cola management is claiming that we can only have 37 union members out of 450 workers because only 37 are permanent workers and the rest are all contract workers.


But in fact, 150 of those are not contract workers, they are directly paid temporary employees who are employed by Coca Cola. By law, they should be made permanent after nine months. But they have been employed by Coca Cola for more than ten years.


So what we have is workers denied the right to permanent jobs according to the law, and therefore, denied the right to join the union, and be part of the bargaining unit.  This is the key to the dispute.


-But there is also a fraud by management…

-Yes, when we started examining the real employment relationship, management already started altering the government-issued social security cards of the employees.  They added in the Employer section the name of this labor contractor. By hand, they added it.  And they started fabricating documents in an attempt to cover up the fact that these workers were directly employed by Coca Cola.


We then investigated further and found that this labor contractor does not exist.

The spark of outsourcing


Out of 450 workers in the Multan Plant, only 37 are directly employed by Coca Cola


Basically, we wanted them to acknowledge all of the evidence we presented because Coca Cola couldn’t even give us the address of the contractor.  And when they finally gave us the address, after a month, they gave us three addresses in three days. We couldn’t find this contractor and in the end all we found was an old abandoned building where


all of the neighbors, including the bank staff next door, said that the sign was painted just four days before we arrived.


And this fake company is supposedly employing all of our union members.  So, therefore, these workers can’t be members of a union that bargains with Coca Cola.


-Coca Cola workers are mobilized…

-We have nation-wide demonstrations. Mainly related to the FIFA World Cup. We have this “red card penalty to Coca Cola” actions going on across Pakistan. 


This past Sunday we had a family football event in Lahore, where people gave a red card to Coca Cola. We protested at the head office of Coca Cola Pakistan in Lahore and now this protest moved to two other cities:  to Guijranwala, Multan and the next day to Rahim Yar Khan where Coca Cola has another factory.


There are unions in all except one plant in Lahore and all these other Coca Cola unions, all members of the IUF, are wearing black arm bands and holding demonstrations in support of the Multan workers.


- And there is also an IUF Global Campaign?

-Yes, it is worth noting that  Coca Cola Pakistan is 50 percent owned by Coca Cola Turkey, this is Coca Cola Icecek (CCI), and the Coca Cola  Turkey management has refused to recognize any of these issues for the past several months.


Clearly, the reaction of management has been more repression and more threats and even criminal activities. All of this has forced us to launch a global campaign because we really could not, through negotiations, achieve anything.


There is always the communications channel that we have with the Coca Cola Company. Meetings are planned, but the key issue is that Coca Cola Icecek, the Turkish management, has to start acting in good faith, stop denying even very basic facts and get down to sorting this out. 



From Montevideo, Beatriz Sosa Martínez


July 9, 2010






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