Colombia | UNIONS


With Roberto Martinez

Outsourcing and union persecution, part of Coca Cola FEMSA ingredients


Sirel dialogued with Roberto Martínez, general secretary of Beverage and Foods Workers’ National Union (according to its abbreviation in Spanish, SICO), in order to get to know the problems that are faced by the workers of the transnational company in the country.


-Which are the problems in Coca Cola FEMSA?

-After almost a year of negotiations, the collective labor agreement was finally signed last January.

The main problem we have at present is that the company interprets the Collective Bargaining Agreement in the way it wants.

For example, article number 5, which is referred to the union permissions, is not respected by the company, not following what was achieved in the negotiation round.


The company wants the union permissions to be divided among the trade unions which coexist in the company and the workers are not willing to accept our union code of law to be denied.

Apart from this breach of a signed agreement, the growing incorporation of outsourced workers is added. At the plant of Coca Cola FEMSA in Villavicencio the comrades that work the night shift have been displaced because the company hired outsourced staff to carry out the tasks in that shift, which means a crystal clear violation of the Colombian labour laws.


-Outsourcing is only a reality in Villavicencio?

-No, we are also having problems at the plant in Bogotá, with the Sales workers; almost 90 per cent of them is outsourced at present and many water distribution routes have recently been outsourced.


At Coca Cola FEMSA, there are first and second class workers. A temporary worker or an outsourced one have not got the same guarantees as a permanent one.


The number of outsourced workers increase as time goes by because they are paid less money and they are not considered when it comes time to offer benefits.

Apart from these contract modes, Coca Cola FEMSA demarcates of any responsibility towards these workers.


On the other hand the unionized workers suffer a constant persecution by the company, which has been taking disciplinary sanctions left and right with no grounds. I have heard that it is a practice in vogue amongst transnational companies.


Another worrying issue, is the rumor circulating that Coca Cola FEMSA, pressured by the district government, will relocate the plant in Bogotá towards a neighboring town called Sopó, 50 kilometres away from the capital city.

If this finally happens, even a darker prospect will approach.


-Which actions is the SICO carrying out?

-Firstly, we are publicly denouncing these facts and we have also started to take legal action before the Ministry of Labour and Social affairs for the specific cases of the comrades in Villavicencio.


We hope to receive the support from UITA and FELATRAC that will be fundamental to face the problems we are experiencing and those that will approach.



Coca Cola FEMSA Colombia was founded in May 2003, when the company acquires the 100 per cent of the biggest franchise of Coca Cola’s system in Latin America (PANAMCO).


In Colombia, Coca Cola FEMSA is the company which controls the Soft Drinks National Industry, S.A. (according to its abbreviation in Spanish, INDEGA) that has subsidiaries companies like Embotelladoras de Santander, S.A. (EMSA); Embotelladora Román, S.A. (EMRO) and Embotelladora del Hula, S.A. (EMHU) that produce and distribute products of The Coca Cola Company all along the country.


In February 2009 the transaction is closed to acquire the business of Brisa bottled water, owned by SABMiller.


At present there are 10 bottling plants in Colombia that employ around 8.000 workers.


In the plant in Bogotá –the biggest in the country- there are 1.000 workers.




From Montevideo, Amalia Antúnez


July 12, 2011






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