European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

European Manifesto for a socially sustainable Coca-Cola system

03/04/2014

Across all European bottlers today, Coca-Cola is implementing continued attacks on jobs, work-life balance and workers’ rights by making incessant requests for enhanced labor flexibility. This attitude clearly reveals that in spite of the significant financial profits obtained by the Coca-Cola system, job cuts and a general deterioration of employment and working conditions are considered by the company as the sole form of cost reduction. This corporate industrial strategy is already affecting many workers in Europe and it represents the secret non declared formula to obtain the ambitious goals of the announced vision 2020.

As members of the EFFAT Coca-Cola Coordination Group, constituted by national Trade union officers, senior shop steward and members of national and European works councils representing the Coca-Cola workforce employed at The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG:

  • We express our deepest disappointment for the industrial strategies implemented by Coca-Cola Management in Europe, whose corporate decisions having a significant impact on Coca-Cola employees have been and are being taken without the fair and proper involvement of workers representatives. We strongly denounce this company’s attitude that is far away from the more constructive cooperation we were used to several years ago.
  • We do not accept that a company which saw its share price gain around 20% and that presents a very solid financial standing can choose to dismantle its human capital through an attack on jobs and rights without precedents.
  • We cannot tolerate that in Coca-Cola shareholder value is the only interest being pursued by corporate management: While workers of this company receive endless requests for enhanced flexibility and are left without the possibility to ensure a decent standard of living for themselves and their families, members of senior management continue increasing their profits and bonus payments. All this is done without ensuring the sustainable growth of the business through a transparent investment policy, but only by cutting cost to the detriment of the working environment of those who produce profits.
  • We do not trust a company that devotes significant resources to the care of its brand and its reputation, but does so without respecting the rights and well being of its greatest assets, namely those employees that with their efforts make everyday Coca-Cola a great product worldwide.
  • We do not accept that corporate decisions entailing restructuring processes and closure of plants are carried out without considering the sustainability and potential effects of these actions on workers, their families and the entire communities where these factories operate, and without taking into account the alternative measures and the counterproposals presented by trade unions. 
  • We express our strong condemnation for the infringement of trade union rights. Trade unions must always be considered as the main interlocutor of corporate management. Not only EWCs but also trade unions need to be informed and consulted in a timely and meaningful manner on transnational matters: TU are in fact the organizations that concretely have to cope with the drastic social impacts that come from reckless industrial strategies.
  • We express our deepest solidarity and our strongest support to all those colleagues who have lost their jobs as a consequence of “productivity” initiatives.

Our requests to the Central Management of the Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG

Throughout these last years, Coca-Cola’s management strategy has produced tragic effects across all the bottlers operating in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). Considering this critical situation and the unwillingness of constructive collaboration with the trade union movement showed by Coca-Cola’s Management in Europe, the EFFAT Coca-Cola Coordination Group, meeting in Madrid on 20-21 March 2014 and representing the Coca-Cola workforce employed at The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG, mandates EFFAT to present the following requests:

  • We demand that Coca-Cola enters into a permanent and constructive dialogue at EU level with EFFAT, an officially recognized European social partner, and its national affiliates. Scheduled meetings among representatives of the Central Management (Human Resources directors of all the bottlers operating in Europe as well as Management representatives of the Coca-Cola Company) and EFFAT and its member organizations must be held at least every quarter. All the issues affecting the European workforce need to be treated and discussed with trade unions in Europe and not anywhere else.
  • We demand that Coca-Cola establishes a long-term dialogue with EFFAT and its national affiliates to deal with the anticipation, preparation and management of restructurings taking place in Europe. We urge Coca-Cola to establish a shared plan to enhance adaptability and employability of workers in Europe: Education and lifelong learning should be further enhanced to foster employability.
  • We demand that Coca-Cola fully explains to EFFAT and its national affiliates every proposed restructuring operation taking place in the EU and EEA, in order to enable Trade Unions and workers’ representatives to undertake an in-depth assessment and to allow for meaningful consultation, avoiding or at least mitigating to the minimum the social and economic impact of restructuring.
  • We demand that Coca-Cola avoids redundancies and stops the outsourcing of our jobs taking into account all possible alternative options and counterproposals presented by employee representatives. In this regard, we call on Coca-Cola to play a more pro-active role in the assistance of employees made redundant, for instance supporting them in the research of a new employment.
  • We demand that Coca-Cola ends the continued requests for a labour flexibility which only implies enormous efforts for workers representing a source of psychosocial risks and stress. Flexibility also undermines the work-life balance and existing rights of the Coca-Cola’s workforce.
  • We demand that Coca-Cola fully respects trade union and workers’ rights and ends all forms of personal discrimination against elected workers’ representatives. We no longer tolerate these shameful violations of fundamental rights.

 

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.