With  Pablo Quiroga, of FATAGA

 Alert:  240 workers laid off by Coca Cola bottler


Last Monday 6, Polar SA, Coca Cola bottling and distribution company, covering the large Southern territory of Argentina from Bahia Blanca to Ushuaia, hastily fired 240 workers. The local union and the Argentine Federation of Carbonated Beverages and Related Industry Workers (FATAGA), supported by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), have mobilized against this corporate measure. Sirel discussed this situation with Pablo Quiroga, FATAGA Administrative Secretary.


-What is going on with Polar SA?

-Last Monday 6, the company did not allow workers to go into the plant because they had sent telegrams telegrams of dismissal to 240 workers out of a total 800 workers employed at the factory. News items were conflicting, while some people had received a telegram, others hadn't, so the decision was to go into the factory anyway and remain there, and that is what we have been doing.


-What was Polar's reaction faced with this action?

-Yesterday, Wednesday 8, there was a compulsory conciliation hearing requested by the company. Both, the trade union and FATAGA attended the hearing. The company requested that the hearing be adjourned and resumed in the afternoon, but then the company representatives did not show up. This was very surprising because the conciliation had been requested by them.


-What was the union reaction?

-Our response has been not only to keep the Neuquen plant paralyzed but also paralyzing the Trelew factory and largest one, Bahía Blanca, all of them owned by the same company, and also all the distribution centers belonging to the Polar system.


-In your view, what is the reason for Polar to take such a surprising decision?

-The company intentions are no clear yet, as we have not had the chance for a dialogue. The company owners are likely to be thinking of an extension of the Bahia Blanca plant and turning the Neuquen factory into a distribution center, but we don't know. Our immovable position is not accepting any lay-off and demanding that every job is maintained.


-What support does the union have to face this conflict?

-Nationally and regionally we have full solidarity of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT)


-What is the total number of Polar workers?

-Polar group has two thousand workers.


-What are the future actions planned?

-Apart from the strikes at the Polar plants and distributions centers, we have informed their Business Chamber that we absolutely reject this behavior, and we have also reported our rejection to the Coca Cola Producers Associations, of which Polar is a member. Our General Secretary, Raúl Álvarez, has already warned them that in case a solution is not reached soon, we are likely to paralyze all the Coca Cola system in Argentina.


For this, we also have the support of our brothers in the distribution operations who drive the trucks throughout the country.  


Obviously, we would prefer not to reach this type of industrial action, but we are alert to know the news coming from the relevant ministries and based on such news our actions will be decided.



In Montevideo, Carlos Amorín


September 10, 2010





Photo: La Mañana Neuquén

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