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Nov 9, 2006
Focus: Workers Rights
Action Request: Boycott
Location: Venezuela
Well, good they are doing something, but remember that the best way to help those people is to boycott coca cola company by not buying any of their products!!
heck out this website: http://www.killercoke.org/


VENEZUELA: Venezuela lawmaker says workers seize, stop Coca-Cola plants


Market Watch
October 23rd, 2006

Former Coca-Cola workers blocked access to all Coca-Cola Co. (KO) bottling plants in Venezuela and picketed administrative offices Monday, demanding a solution to a long-running dispute over unpaid severance.

A vocal lawmaker close to President Hugo Chavez celebrated the move which has forced the company to cease production across the country.

"We have seized Coca-Cola plants...We will not allow a single truck from Coca-Cola to leave with soft drinks," Iris Varela, a lawmaker, said during a televised interview with state television.

Varela did not specify how long the seizure could last or what role the government is playing in this dispute between the company and workers.

"Now we will see if they will pay workers what they owe them," she said.

A Coca-Cola official who declined to be named, said former soft drink distribution contractors have blocked access to all four bottling plants in Venezuela, effectively paralyzing production since early this morning. Protesters are also picketing outside some administrative offices in Caracas.

The company has fought a legal battle with former distribuitors over unpaid severance for years.

The workers have stopped employees from entering the plants but have allowed others to leave, the official noted.

Liliana Sierraalta, a spokeswoman for the company, said she could not comment yet but would release information later in the day.

Varela, the lawmaker who announced the protests, expressed support for the worker cause and suggested the government should eventually expropriate the company's assets if it fails to comply with worker demands.

If Coca-Cola doesn't follow through, "the company should be expropriated," she said, and a new company could produce "Venezuelan soft drinks instead."

Venezuela's congress is now completely dominated by politicians who support President Hugo Chavez, since opposition parties decided to pull out of last year's congressional election citing electoral irregularities.

Chavez has vowed to create a socialism for the 21st century in Venezuela and to expropriate "idle" land and company assets. He has also threatened expropriation in cases where companies have unresolved disputes with workers.

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Posted: Nov 9, 2006 7:56am
Mar 8, 2006
Focus: Workers Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: United States
US: Wal-Mart critics put workers in spotlight over health care
by Marcus Kabel, Associated Press
February 28th, 2006
http://corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13333

One of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s most vociferous critics launched a campaign Tuesday with 17 current and former Wal-Mart workers speaking out against health insurance coverage they claim is too expensive, leaving them uninsured or on taxpayer funded programs.

News conferences by the workers in eight states Tuesday and four more scheduled later this week and next are timed to help a union-backed drive for legislation that would require the world's largest retailer to pay a fixed percentage for health coverage of its 1.3 million U.S. workers.

WakeUpWalMart.com, a group backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said 10 speakers were current Wal-Mart employees and seven more had quit or been fired.

In workers' stories collected ahead of the news conferences by the group, several current employees talk about being unable to afford premiums and deductibles even after working for Wal-Mart for several years.

Dana Razaie has been a stocker at a Wal-Mart in Fridley, Minn., for about five years. She said she depends on state-funded MinnesotaCare for health coverage for herself and three children.

According to WakeUpWalMart, Razaie's wage of $11.29 an hour at Wal-Mart and a second job at a gas station leave her with take-home pay of less than $20,000 a year. Razaie says she cannot afford Wal-Mart's health insurance plan with $300 monthly premiums and deductibles reaching over $1,000.

Wal-Mart said it is already taking steps to make insurance more affordable. It offers a new plan this year that costs $23 a month and covers three doctor visits and three prescriptions before a deductible of $1,000 kicks in.

It also launched an $11 plan in a limited number of locations but will widen that to be available to half of all employees later this year, as well as shortening the eligibility period for part-timers and adding coverage of their children.

"Our jobs give people the opportunity to move from public health programs to private health coverage," company spokeswoman Sarah Clark said.

Clark said 7 percent of new employees are on Medicaid when they join Wal-Mart, a percentage that drops to 3 percent within two years, and that Wal-Mart created 125,000 jobs last year.

Wal-Mart also offered testimonials from six current employees who praised the company's coverage, including a woman who was a divorced mother of three when she joined in 1998 in Hermiston, Ore.

"Within the first year with Wal-Mart, I no longer needed food stamps and I had medical, dental, and life insurance through Wal-Mart," wrote Heather Baumgartner, now a logistics manager in Grantsville, Utah.

Razaie was due to appear at a news conference Tuesday in Minneapolis. Other workers were to speak Tuesday in Boston; Dallas; Lansing, Mich.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Tulsa, Okla.; and Syracuse, N.Y. The other five events over the next two weeks are to be held in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Tennessee.

The campaign comes as unions are pushing for bills in several states similar to one passed in a veto override by the Maryland legislature in January.

Maryland's "Fair Share" bill, which has been challenged in federal courts by a national retail association, requires large employers to spend at least 8 percent of payroll in a state for employee health coverage or pay the difference into state coffers for publicly funded programs for the uninsured.

Proponents say similar bills filed in at least 22 states would stop taxpayer subsidies for profitable companies that skimp on health coverage, leaving workers to sign up with state programs.

Opponents including Wal-Mart and many business groups say the bills are bad policy aimed at punishing Wal-Mart and will do nothing to solve the problem of the working uninsured and rising health care costs.

Labor unions are pushing the bills in about 30 states. Maryland is the only state to have passed it, and since then similar bills have been rejected, stalled or withdrawn in at least eight states, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and Wal-Mart..
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Posted: Mar 8, 2006 5:26am

 

 
 
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