The struggle against job cuts by Coca Cola shifts to Italy where workers were striking Thursday in protest at cost reduction plans by the American multinational.
The eight hour stoppage is in response to the announcement earlier this month that the company, producer of one of the world’s most popular soft drinks, will make 249 redundancies across Italy, adding to record jobless queues. This, despite quarterly profits of $2.59 billion, latest figures show.
The action in Italy follows strikes and major street protests earlier this year in Spain over the US company’s plans to axe over 800 jobs. This was knocked back – at least temporarily – in June by a court decision, which the company says it will appeal.
In May Coca-Cola workers protested in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy to demand that the company stop its ‘ruthless agenda of job cuts, and precarious, outsourced labour.’
Italian unions have slammed the drinks giant as ‘schizophrenic’ because it announced it was downsizing the workforce on July 16 only hours after it unveiled plans to give employees bonuses and boost employment in the country, which it considered ‘strategic’. Coca Cola’s Italian operations contribute 70 million euros to the company’s bottom line, say unions, yet the company wants to shift jobs to lower cost locations like Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
“It’s clear Coca Cola no longer considers our country strategic , or at least no longer considers it appropriate in terms of employment to reinvest a portion of those profits every year Italy provides to the Atlanta-based Group,” the Flai Cgil, Fai Cisl e Uila Uil unions said in a press statement.
This not the first time the company, which posted $47 billion in sales last year, has betrayed unions and local communities dependent on Coca Cola for jobs. They gave support to the US multinational’s campaign against a proposed tax on fizzy drinks designed to curtail consumption of unhealthy sugary beverages because Coca Cola argued the tax would put jobs at risk. However, the company proceeded to cut jobs anyway, boosting profits in the process, unions say.