‘Boycott Coca Cola,” say Spanish workers

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email


Hundreds of Coca Cola workers sporting red T-shirts shouted, sang, and marched into Madrid’s historic central square on July 18 to demand the return of their jobs.I was among dozens of Canadian, American, and Australian tourists who encountered this instance of class struggle following our tour farewell dinner in the square.

I spoke to Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) union organizer Daniel Andres Sobrino about the issues in dispute with the soft drink giant.He told me that Spain’s national labour court overturned Coca Cola’s dismissal of 1190 workers in that country. The decision was a big boost for the union-led campaign against four factory closures in that depressed economy.The Audiencia Nacional also called for the workers’ reinstatement and payment of lost wages.

The court found that Coca-Cola Iberian Partners, a new Spanish subsidiary of the U.S. multinational formed from the merger of eight bottling plants, had shown “a complete and manifest breach of the obligations” to provide information, and to consult and negotiate procedures. The court also agreed with the applicant unions that the company had unlawfully tried to break the strike at the Fuenlabrada plant in a bid to undermine the workers’ “constitutional rights.”The company is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.

In February, the CCOO, UGT, and CSIF unions launched a legal challenge after the company decided to push ahead with its plans to shut down plants in order to cut costs. The workers urge a boycott of Coca Cola products until their issues are resolved.CCOO blames the dispute on the Spanish government’s 2012 labour law reform, which made it easier to fire workers.

A deep downturn, aggravated by austerity policies over the past five years, has pushed Spain’s official unemployment rate up to 26 percent.

The workers’ campaign has resulted in many consumers’ boycotting the popular beverage. According to El Economista, in central Spain, including Madrid, sales diminished by 48.6 percent between Feb. 28, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2014. The company has tried to minimise the effect of the boycott campaign, arguing that in February 2014 alone sales fell only by 2.3 percent. According to the unions, the biggest drop occurred in the second half of January, when the redundancy plan was announced.

The bottler claimed that its re-organisation was necessary because some plants were only operating at half their capacity, due to over-expansion and weak demand in Spain’s struggling economy.However, its plans floundered when the court ruled that Coca-Cola Iberian Partners had failed to present the union negotiating committee with a detailed account of its re-organisation.

The court declared void the plan to make 1190 workers redundant, of whom 821 had actually been laid off, and to close the plant at Fuenlabrada (Madrid), as well as in Majorca, Alicante and Asturias. It ordered the company to reinstate hundreds of workers and to issue back pay. At its headquarters in Atlanta, Coca-Cola said it was disappointed with the ruling, adding that its bottling partner intended to appeal.Coca-Cola’s 2013 fourth-quarter profits totalled $1.7 billion euros.

Please send messages of solidarity to Spain’s cola workers at: danso77@hotmail.com

Photo: Barry Weisleder / Socialist Action



Related Articles

Debate in the Fourth International Part II: There Is No Equal Sign Between U.S. Imperialism and Chinese and Russian Imperialism: An Alternative to the FI majority text entitled “The World Geostrategic Situation”  

By JEFF MACKLER, National Committee/Socialist Action USA
This text was adopted by Socialist Action’s National Committee for presentation to the annual February 2022 meeting of the delegates to the Fourth International’s elected international leadership. Representatives of some 56 parties across the globe were present at this five-day zoom gathering. Socialist Action participates only in a fraternal capacity due to reactionary U.S. legislation that bars membership in international socialist organizations.

How Latin American Women Are Winning the Battle for Abortion Rights

Today, 37 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean’s population of 652 million live in countries where women have won rights to legal abortion or are no longer imprisoned for terminating a pregnancy (including Cuba, Guyana, and Puerto Rico). Five years ago, it was less than 3 percent. None of this would have been possible without feminist activism, networks and demonstrations, and public conversations about the autonomy of women.