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Outsourced Coca-Cola Philippines Workers Fight for Regularization

Posted to the IUF website 28-May-2008

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Alden Manalusan (center), President of the Coca-Cola Sales Force Union (CCSFU), presides over a ceremony in which precarious workers sign union membership forms. David Magnetico (right, red shirt) has worked directly and indirectly for CCBPI for 20 years but the company doesn�t recognize him as an employee. Also signing up to join the union are Zaldy Japson, Estanilao Alagarne, Ricky Liporada and Ariel Elase (standing)

Forty workers who�ve worked for Coca-Cola Philippines for up to 15 years through a fake third-party contractor have escalated their fight for direct, regular employment by joining a union in the IUF-affiliated Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions Philippines (ACCUP).

For the past two decades Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc (CCBPI) has increased the use of third-party contractors to operate its sales, distribution, warehousing and logistics. Today more workers are employed through these contractors than the entire sales and delivery workforce employed directly by CCBPI. But far from being independent, specialized logistics companies they are just labour agencies and the actual operations are run by CCBPI. The result? Thousands of drivers, helpers, checkers, dispatchers and forklift operators work for CCBPI but aren�t CCBPI employees. That means no health insurance, no medical benefits, no pensions, no social insurance, no overtime pay - and no responsibility for CCBPI as an employer. Crucially, these workers are also denied the rights, benefits and protection that union members are entitled to under collective bargaining agreements.

As the experience of 150 workers at a CCBPI warehouse in Manila operated by a third-party contractor shows, even getting their wages is a struggle. Faced with unpaid wages for 2 to 3 months workers found that their �employer� had no money and it as actually CCBPI that was paying them. In response to a petition filed in the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), the so-called logistics company declared that the workers are �piece rate workers�, not regular workers. This is despite the fact they�ve worked for 4 to 15 years, and some even 20 years. Even more incredible is the fact that the �head office� of this company is located inside of the CCBPI sales office in Bagumbayan, Quezon City.

In March 2008, 53 of the 150 workers were assisted by Labor Education And Research Network (LEARN) and ACCUP to file legal cases against CCBPI to recognize their legal right to direct, regular employment. CCBPI�s immediate (and predictable) response was to deny any employment relationship with the workers.

As the next step in their campaign to win regular employment status, more than 40 workers signed union membership forms on May 16 to join the Coca-Cola Sales Force Union (CCSFU) in Makati City, Manila, a member of the IUF-affiliated Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions Philippines (ACCUP). Dozens more will be joining in the coming days.