Friday, June 06, 2008

While it is hardly on the "cutting edge" of transnational capitalism the Coca-Cola corporation remains one of the largest business empires in the world, with a presence across the globe. Unions representing workers in the Coca-Cola empire have seen a need to coordinate their efforts globally as well. The following is an announcement from the IUF about the formation of the 'Global Coca-Cola Workers' Alliance'.
Coca-Cola Workers launch Global Union Alliance
The IUF's 2nd Global Coca-Cola Unions Meeting took place on May 22 and 23, 2008 following five years of IUF Coca-Cola organizing around the world since the first meeting in 2003. This 2nd meeting was hosted and largely resourced by the German food workers union, the NGG and opened by NGG president Franz-Josef Möllenberg..
The Alliance launch
At this meeting representatives of over one hundred trade unions with members in Coca-Cola in 32 countries launched the Global Coca-Cola Workers Alliance. A Steering Group of representatives form all region would lead the Alliance between full Global Alliance meetings and an Alliance "Contact Group" would maintain the twice-yearly meetings with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) first negotiated and started in 2005.
The Alliance "pledge"
The Global Alliance of Coca-Cola Unions will be open to all IUF affiliates with actual or potential membership in the Coca-Cola system and commits Alliance member unions to support each other in case of conflicts and in efforts to grow membership and raise workers conditions throughout the Coca-Cola system.
The Challenge
Alliance members pointed to ongoing issues that needed strong and constant pressure from the IUF and its affiliates and allies. These included concerns at the growing use of precarious workers in place of permanent workers, divergence between the practice of some local managements and bottlers and the proclaimed corporate human rights policies of TCCC and the slow progress towards a global agreement with the Company which would commit the Coca-Cola system to rights and most importantly to access by Coca-Coal workers to those rights.
Exchanges with TCCC Director for Global Workplace Rights
At a "Question & Answer" session with TCCC Director for Global Workplace Rights, Ed Potter, most issues raised related to employment security and the widespread use of outsourcing and agency work in the system. There was agreement that this issue would feature centrally in the next direct meeting between TCCC and the IUF team of affiliates in Atlanta in October 2008.
Despite a robust Q&A session during the meeting the vast majority of IUF affiliates acknowledged the positive approach of TCCC in recent years towards wider engagement with trade unions and particularly the Company's willingness to engage meaningfully at the global level in stark contrast to many other US corporations and market competitors.
Moving forward!
At the close of the meeting representatives unanimously voiced a strong sense that the meeting had moved unions representing Coca-Cola workers forward and that the Alliance would provide a platform to build still stronger global union organization within the Coca-Cola system. IUF general secretary, Ron Oswald, commented, "This IUF Alliance is in the hands of our members and represents our best collective chance to exert pressure and positive influence on this complex global corporate system. Coke will continue to engage with us and we will see progress, but progress built both on our engagement with Coke and, probably principally, on our growing organized strength within the entire system - there will be challenging times ahead for Coke workers and this Alliance can represent our best chance to overcome and move forward."

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