The business of bottled water

Coca-Cola FEMSA

buys Brisa

FEMSA paid 92 million dollars to purchase Agua Brisa and its product portfolio from the SABMiller subsidiary Cervecería Bavaria.

Luis Alejandro Pedraza


Agua Brisa has been marketing bottled water in Colombia since 1994, having a 30 percent share of the market and the leading position in purified water sales in the country. Now the brand will join the line of Dasani flavored waters marketed by The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola FEMSA.


Brisa, which sold 1.13 billion bottles in 2007, has production plants in Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Medellin, Cali and Bogota, and a network of 230,000 retailers throughout the country. This acquisition does not include real property or the company’s Panama operations.


Consulted about this FEMSA group acquisition, Luis Alejandro Pedraza, president of the National Union of Beverage Industry Workers of Colombia (SICO) and member of the Executive Committee of the United Workers’ Federation (CUT), said that “With this operation SABMiller will now focus on beer production. Agua Brisa was not the only thing this transnational corporation parted with this past week; it also let a significant number of workers go. Blaming the global economic recession, SABMiller launched a new wave of layoffs. Over the last 20 days, the workers of the transnational corporation have been under great psychological strain, fearing that at any time they too would receive a sudden call from local management to announce that their contract was cancelled.”


Pedraza recalls that while SABMiller-Bavaria succeeded in dissolving the union (SINALTRABAVARIA) and getting rid of the Collective Work Convention, it imposed a new collective bargaining agreement which included some of the clauses of the Convention, such as a compensation to be paid in the event of factory or unit closures or personnel cuts. But now that it has to apply that clause to the recent layoffs, it is acting arbitrarily, recognizing the right for some workers while denying it in the case of others on account of their union record. In doing so, it is behaving cynically and dishonestly, replicating the tactics it used to destroy the union and the Convention.


For Agua Brisa workers, leaving SABMiller opens up several opportunities, although Pedraza concludes that FEMSA Colombia’s situation -as assessed by the ILO last year- promises to be more of the same.



From Montevideo, Gerardo Iglesias


20 de febrero de 2009





Photo: Gerardo Iglesias

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