Beer and Coca-Cola workers suspend strike, file for arbitration

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Striking Coca-Cola workers march and with their partners from the beer industry union showed remarkable unity. But SABMiller never responded to the unions' proposals nor submitted any of their own. The South African based multinational's only position was to object to dealing with two unions representing of the company's workers in Panama in one contract. The unions has public support, but neither that nor the strike funds they had were enough to pay their members' rent and electric bills throughout a  prolonged struggle.  Photo from the SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS Facebook page
Striking Coca-Cola workers march and with their partners from the beer industry union showed remarkable unity. However, during a month of negotiations and then n 18-day strike SABMiller never responded to the unions’ proposals nor submitted any of their own. The South African based multinational’s only position was to object to dealing with two unions representing of the company’s workers in Panama in one contract. The unions has public support, but neither that nor the strike funds they had were enough to pay their members’ rent and electric bills throughout a prolonged struggle. Photo from the SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS Facebook page

A setback for Panama’s labor movement, but it may be a matter of intact unions retreating to buy time for their next moves rather than fighting on and suffering a crushing defeat

18-day beer and Coca-Cola strike suspended for arbitration

by Eric Jackson

On July 28 unionized workers at the Cerveceria Nacional and its related FEMSA Coca-Cola company went back to work without a contract after an 18-day strike. The companies, subsidiaries of the South Africa based SABMiller, had met with union representatives some 30 times over more than a month and a half but had never responded to union proposals nor submitted any proposals of their own. By all appearances the global giant — the world’s second-largest beer brewing combine and holder of many countries’ Coca-Cola bottling concessions — seemed intent on destroying the Beer Industry Workers Union (STICP) and the Coca-Cola workers’ union with the long acronym (SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS). However, when the unions filed with he Ministry of Labor Development for arbitration the companies agreed and no reprisals against strikers is ordinarily one of the requirements for such government intervention. The outcome of a government arbitration process, however, won’t be binding on a party that thinks that it has lost.

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