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Victorious Coca-Cola Strike: Take back the power of strikes!

By Fortunato Magtanggol

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following Sept. 25 statement by Fortunato Magtanggol, spokesperson, for the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, Southern Tagalog Chapter, on a victorious strike in the Philippines.

The Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions – National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Southern Tagalog (RCTU-NDFP-ST) salutes the workers under the Unyon ng Manggagawa Driver, Forklift Operator, at Picker (UMDFP-IND) of the Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. Sta. Rosa Plant for a victorious strike launched in May 2013. The collective action that was directed at the heart of the capitalist’s interests has once again proven that workers are indeed the decisive force in production.

As the memorandum of agreement nears implementation this October, the RCTU-NDFP-ST reminds and urges workers to fearlessly fight the worsening working conditions under the US-Aquino regime, take back the power of strikes, and track the revolutionary road that will bring them genuine victory in the fight for a society without capitalist oppression.

On 20 May 2013, workers under the UMDFP-IND decisively took their anger to the streets outside the CCBPI-Sta. Rosa plant and declared a strike after months of trying to negotiate with transnational Coca Cola.

Members reached a resolution to launch the strike via strike voting after the Department of Labor and Employment Office of the Secretary blatantly reversed the previous decision released by DoLE-region 4A Med Arbiter Tongzon regarding the workers’ right to certification election abreast their regularization.

The strike that lasted for three days brought workers from other factories and other sectors together to call for the immediate recognition of the previously released decision from Tongzon.

Taking back what is rightfully theirs, the workers paralyzed the factory and ceased, for that particular moment, the capitalist’s seemingly endless acquiring of surplus value from the workers’ labor. For three days, the striking workers, with the support of workers from other factories and unions, have temporarily reversed their economic and social status — forcing the capitalist to bow down and heed the workers’ calls. For this particular moment, workers become the masters, and the capitalist becomes their slave.

Coca Cola lost more than an estimated cost of 100 million pesos during the three-day strike, which left them with no other choice but to face the workers and settle with a set of agreements including the regularization of the workers under UMDFP. Based on a series of talks during the past 4 months, the capitalist has promised to fully implement the decisions based on the memorandum of agreement on 6 October.

In the whole region and even the whole country, the victorious strike of the UMDFP-IND truly sets a new development in the long been oppressed trade union sector. The fight for job security, which has become a crucial struggle for the working class, has now reached a new level, at which we can truly say that there is still hope through our unified ranks and determination.

While it is just right to acknowledge the power of strikes in giving workers economic and political power, there is great necessity in recognizing its momentary effect. Following their brief rise from oppression, workers return to their usual places in production and once again become modern day slaves who trade their labor for measly alms. At the end of the day, they have been able to lessen the capitalist’s rate of exploitation through better working conditions, but remain abused because of the latter’s natural interests in expanding their capital.

RCTU-NDFP-ST calls on all Coca Cola workers, as well as other workers from other factories, to continue the fight for regularization and right to union, escalate their struggle from economic to politically motivated actions, and aim their strength at the heart of the capitalists’ interests not only by intensifying the strike movement, but most importantly, through leading the national democratic revolution that will end all forms of capitalist oppression.

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