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French Coca-Cola workers to strike over redundancies

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-21

French workers at US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola are set to go on strike on claims that a round of redundancies while the company enjoys growing global profits is fundamentally unfair.

French Coca-Cola workers will strike Friday following a round of redundancies which trade unions say are “stock-market-sackings”, a term coined by the French far-left to describe companies reducing payroll overheads while enjoying runaway profits.

Employees at the soft drinks giant said they believed a round of redundancies announced last month, affecting up to 200 people mostly in the French sales and marketing operation, are just the tip of the iceberg as the company “restructures”.

Unions confirmed that production would stop at France’s five bottling plants and at the company’s seven commercial offices across the country.

Christian Jurcenoks, Coca-Cola representative of the CFDT union, said most of the US company’s French employees were behind the industrial action “which will not be limited to Friday’s planned strike”.

“We are all convinced that Coca-Cola has exploited the financial crisis to restructure its French operations and to start a round of redundancies,” he told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday.

“And this is while the company is turning out huge profits,” he added. “The primary concern of our directors is to boost profitability for shareholders at the expense of the welfare of their workers.”

One employee, named only as Noelle, told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday: “I used to love working at Coca-Cola, it was like being part of a big family.”

“But now I am ashamed to work for this company ... they make huge profits, but for the shareholders it’s never enough.”

“Stock-market sackings” [in French: licenciements boursiers] were a central theme in an explosion of enthusiasm for far-left parties, including Jean-Luc Melanchon’s “Parti de Gauche”, in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Mélanchon took 12 per cent of the vote in the first round of the 2012 presidential election.

Since then, a coalition of far-left parties led by the Parti de Gauche and the French Communist Party have submitted a proposed law with the National Assembly that would prohibit companies that are making a profit from forcing workers into redundancy.

The proposed law has yet to be debated.

Coca-Cola posted an 8 per cent increase in turnover in the third quarter of 2012 – at 2.2 billion euros worldwide.

Coca-Cola’s head office in Paris had not responded to FRANCE 24’s calls when this article was published.

Date created : 2012-11-21


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