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Geschreven door clr@igc.apc.org op 13 Aug 1997 14:10:58 -080 met als onderwerp: Pepsi Union Answers Guatemalan Govt

From: Campaign for Labor Rights

/* Written 2:05 PM Aug 13, 1997 by clr in igc:labr.announcem */
/* ---------- "Pepsi Union Answers Guatemalan Govt" ---------- */
Labor Alerts/Labor News
a service of Campaign for Labor Rights
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clr@igc.apc.org (541) 344-5410 http://www.compugraph.com/clr

GUATEMALA PEPSI UPDATE (#3)
Title: Update: Pepsi Union Answers Guatemalan Government
August 12, 1997

[This alert was prepared from information supplied by the
U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project (773-262-6502; e-mail:
usglep@igc.apc.org)

SUMMARY:

The Embassy of Guatemala has sent out a press release on the situation
at the Pepsi bottling plant in Guatemala City that takes issue with
US/GLEP's updates on the firing of workers at the plant just as
contract talks were beginning. The Guatemalan government supports
management's position that the workers were fired due to the need to
down-size and that the company was not attacking the union. The union
answers that Labor Ministry inspectors did not interview any union
workers who were fired or who were pressured to accept severence pay,
adding that the company hired new workers to replace the union workers
who were fired and therefore was not downsizing.

BACKGROUND:

A three-year old union at the Pepsi bottling plant in
Guatemala City is seeking international solidarity. On July 15,
management of the Embotelladora Mariposa, S.A. (EMSA) fired 28
members of the union SITRAEMSA in a well-orchestrated and
coordinated effort that surprised the union. The firings occurred just as
the union submitted a new contract proposal; several of those fired are
involved in the contract negotiations. The union says the firings were
illegal because they violate the union's current contract, which has the
force of law, that the firings are discriminatory and an attack on the
union. Management says the firings were due to downsizing and the
Guatemalan government says that it has found no evidence of wrong-
doing by the company. The SITRAEMSA union is affiliated to
FESTRAS, the foodworkers union of Guatemala, which is affiliated to
the International Union of Foodworkers in Geneva.

Position of La Mariposa Management

On August 5, 1997, the U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project
received a letter from La Mariposa's Jose Raul Gonzalez, Director of
the Corporation. Mr. Gonzalez's letter states that 28 union workers
and 35 non-union administrative workers were fired due to the
globalization process and a necessity to down-size, that the firings were
done in accordance with legal procedures, that the company is not
attacking the union, and that the company intends to continue with the
negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement. He also denies
that the company engaged in "intimidation or pressure" and says that no
worker has been urged to resign. Finally, the company also says that
"two inspectors from the Ministry of Labor visited our plant and have

corroborated that the company acted within all applicable law,
including the collective bargaining agreement...."

Position of the Guatemalan government

The Embassy of Guatemala in Washington, DC began sending out a
press release on the Pepsi situation to various U.S. groups on August 6,
1997 that takes issue with US/GLEP's previous updates. The news
release summarizes a report from two inspectors from the Guatemalan
Ministry of Labor's General Labor Division who visited the factory on
July 15. The Embassy notes that Inspectors Pedro Borror and Mario
Morales met with a member of management and two union
representatives. Each side presented their views. The Embassy then
reports that the labor inspectors "did not establish that the layoffs had
been unjust," that in their view "the layoffs had not been retaliatory in
their nature" and "did not establish any violations to the collective
bargaining agreement, as the labor representatives did not prove such
violations," and "did not determine that the laid off employees had or
have been coerced into signing their resignation letters."

The Embassy stresses that union representatives signed the labor
inspectors report. The Embassy's emphasis apparently intends to
suggest that the union representatives agreed to the inspectors
conclusions.

The Union's Response

Labor Ministry Inspection: The union says that the two labor
inspectors who visited the plant on July 15 did not conduct a genuine
investigation into the accusations made by union members. The union
says that the labor inspectors failed to interview any of the union
workers who were fired or who reported pressure to sign a dismissal
document and take their severance pay. The union filed a complaint
with the Labor Ministry on July 21 regarding the lack of impartiality of
the inspection but has not yet received a response. (Neither the
Guatemalan embassy nor La Mariposa management acknowledge the
existence of the July 21 complaint.)

The union also says that the signing of the inspectors' report was akin
to accepting the minutes of a meeting (i.e. who was present, who said
what) and was not in any way an acceptance of the inspectors so-called
findings.

Claim of down-sizing: The union says that the company has hired new
workers to replace the union workers who were fired and they the
company reportedly raised the monthly salaries of the replacement
workers by a hefty (by Guatemalan standards) $50 a month.

Claim of non-discrimination: The union asks why, therefore, were
only union members fired from the production workforce even though
the union represents less than 50% of production workers.

Neither the Guatemalan embassy nor La Mariposa management have
responded to these basic issues. The union and its lawyer continue to
state the firings were in violation of the union's contract and therefore,
according to Guatemalan law, illegal, that the circumstances

surrounding the firings and they way in which workers were fired and
pressured to sign severance pay demonstrate that the company sought to
deny these workers their basic rights, that the company engaged in
tactics of intimidation, installing video surveillance cameras the night
before the firings took place and having heavily armed guards
accompany management personnel when workers were told of their
firing and asked to give up their legal rights to challenge the firings.
The union has provided to the company written statements from fired
workers describing in detail acts of pressure and intimidation, even an
attempted kidnapping of one worker's mother who refused to accept her
son's severance payment from Pepsi personnel.

US/GLEP's Analysis

The Guatemalan government and management essentially dismiss all the
union's claims: illegal firings, pressure to resign, and intimidating
tactics. Unfortunately, there is a long history of collusion between
labor inspectors and owners, and somewhat of a revolving door
between the two. For example, two former Labor Ministry officials
reportedly now work for La Mariposa.

US/GLEP has contacted Guatemalan Labor Minister Mendoza Cifuentes
regarding the union's assertion that the inspectors failed to
interview the workers making the accusations and did not carry out a
fair investigation before issuing their report. US/GLEP has also asked
the Guatemalan government and La Mariposa management to respond
to the two major issues: (a) how can management's defense of down-
sizing be valid if the company turned around and hired new workers to
replace the production workers who were fired and (b) why were the
only production workers fired union members even though the union
represents less than 50% of all production workers. Until there is a
satisfactory explanation to these issues, US/GLEP shares the view that
the firings are illegal and the workers should be reinstated.

SUGGESTED ACTIONS

These remain the same as previously posted.

The union demands that the 25 fired workers who haven't accepted
severance be reinstated immediately, and requests that protest messages
be sent to, among others:

Enrique Castillo Monge, President, Corporacion Mariposa,
S.A.; fax: (502) 366-4145
The Honorable Hector A. Cifuentes, Minister of Labor,
Ministry of Labor; fax: (502) 230-1363

If possible, send copies of your above letters to:

CACIF (the business roundtable); fax: (502) 334-7025; and

Ms. Geraldine Chester, U.S. Embassy; fax: 502-331-0564

The union also requests that messages of support be sent to:

SITRAEMSA, Calzada Raul Aguilar Batres 44-31, Zona 12,

Guatemala Ciudad; fax: (502) 479-1631 with a copy to
FESTRAS-UITA Fax: (502) 238-3075

For more information, contact the U.S./Guatemala Labor Education
Project, P.O. Box 268-290, Chicago, IL 60626; Tel: (773) 262-6502; e-
mail: usglep@igc.apc.org

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