Coca-Cola workers fizzing again, after their five-year fight
Written by Canarian Weekly Business
COCA-Cola workers in Spain are celebrating the end of a five-year labour conflict, thanks to an agreement reached by their unions with the company.
The workers have been facing uncertainty since the global drinks giant announced plans, back in early 2014, to shut four of its plants in Spain to “strengthen the brand”.
It would have led to 821 employees being made redundant. But though all the factories put up a fight, every one of them, besides the plant in Fuenlabrada, in the Greater Madrid region, eventually caved in.
The Supreme Court in Spain finally declared the redundancies illegal and ordered Coca-Cola to give all of them their jobs back, on the same terms as before, or compensate them if they had already found alternative work and did not wish to return.
After months of ongoing industrial conflict, Coca-Cola opted to open a logistics centre in Fuenlabrada, but staff complained that they had no work to do, and were scratching around for ways to fill their days.
Again, they applied to the court, but this time the judges ruled in favour of the company. Employees announced plans to appeal to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg, but a deal struck between their union and Coca-Cola last Thursday persuaded them to call off the legal action.
The deal involves a two-year plan to set up a work centre, within a 70-kilometre radius of Madrid city, for staff aged under 58, with each employee being given compensation based upon age. Those aged 58 and over will be retired early.
The Fuenlabrada logistics centre will be closed, and Coca-Cola has guaranteed that its staff will remain in employment for the next two years at least. And, once that is over, the workforce will not be left “high and dry”, or facing “forced redundancy”.
The plight of Coca-Cola workers attracted widespread media attention, and they were backed by numerous left-wing politicians, including Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain's third-largest party Podemos.