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Action Alert: Coca-Cola Haiti Violates Labor Rights
Workers at the Brasserie de La Couronne, S.A./Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Haiti brewery in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti are calling for labor rights supporters internationally to write to CEO Jaar to protest ongoing labor violations.
[This alert was prepared by the Grassroots Haiti Solidarity Committee based on information from the Haitian labor group Batay Ouvriye ("Workers' Struggle"). Please circulate widely.]
May 29, 2006
Coca-Cola Haiti Violates Labor Rights
Brewery Workers in Northern Haiti Call for Letters
Workers at the Brasserie de La Couronne, S.A./Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Haiti brewery in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti report that management is continuing a pattern of abuses that includes wages below the legal minimum, violations of the overtime law and the irregular firing of Philomé Cémérant, the secretary of the newly formed Batay Ouvriye May First Union Federation/Union of La Couronne Brewery Northern Branch Workers.
The union says that talks with management have made no progress over the last six months and that La Couronne CEO Raymond Jaar has now broken off contact completely. Noting the troubled human rights record of Coca-Cola affiliates around the world, the union is calling for labor rights supporters internationally to write to Mr. Jaar asking him to rectify the situation.
BELOW IS A SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO LA COURONNE CEO RAYMOND JAAR
Mr. Raymond Jaar
CEO Brasserie de La Couronne, S.A.
Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Haïti
P.O. Box 1477, Port-au-Prince, Haïti
Phones: (509) 250-4264 / 250-7215 / 250-7225 Fax: (509) 250-0212
E-mail: raymondjaar [at] bracour.com / cblanchett [at] bracour.com
Dear Mr. Jaar,
I have been informed of your company's major abuses against workers' rights, particularly the illegal 50 gourde/day salary and anti-union abuses. You should know, Mr. Jaar, that these types of illegal practices go against the essential human rights of all individuals, and that they will not be able to continue in Haiti or in the world. This is why I am asking you most urgently to adopt the necessary measures to rectify the situation at the La Couronne Brewery/Coca-Cola Haiti. The workers' base salary needs to correctly adjusted, and Philomé Cémérant should be rehired without delay and with back pay, and a constructive dialogue needs to be started with the workers' union.
In the hope that you will adopt these measures in the spirit of social advancement within Haiti,
Cc : Batay Ouvriye, BP 13326, Delmas, Haïti batay [at] batayouvriye.org
Brasserie de La Couronne, S.A./Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Haiti has a long record of complaints from its employees both in Port-au- Prince and in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.
"Drinking Couronne soft drinks is sweet, but they are made through terrible exploitation, with outright illegal practices," a workers' committee in Port-au-Prince charged as far back 2001.
Currently, workers say, management in Cap-Haïtien does not pay the mandatory time and a half for overtime. Even the security personnel at the gate make just 100 gourdes a day (US $2.50) for twelve hours' work. The employees lifting the soft drink cases make a base wage of 50 gourdes per day ($1.25), which they are supposed to supplement with "commissions" to reach the legal minimum of 70 gourdes a day. The days when the workers are unable to work-- if the trucks are out of order, or if their drivers are unable to come to work due to illness--there are no commissions, and these workers only receive the base pay. Even when they do receive the commissions (3 cents of a gourde, $0.00075, for each case sold), their daily income is about 110 gourdes ($2.75).
The Batay Ouvriye May First Union Federation-Union of La Couronne Brewery Northern Branch Workers (Intersyndicale Premier Mai Batay Ouvriye-Syndicat des Travailleurs de la Brasserie La Couronne Branche Nord) was formed in late 2005. Soon afterwards, on November 5, 2005, management fired union secretary Philomé Cémérant, alleging that he had "refused to obey the indications, orders and instructions of the North Distribution Center Director." Even the generally pro-management Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor questioned the firing, citing a report from its inspectors that Cémérant had been a good employee for most of his four years and three months in the company, and asking for him to be rehired "if possible."
Negotiations between the union and management have stalled. The union says that CEO Raymond Jaar "promised to consider the workers' demands and answer positively to several points they had laid down last December, but at present, after several anti-union acts, Jaar has categorically cut all contact with us and even refused to meet with representatives of our union organization."
For a full report in English, go to: http://www.batayouvriye.org/English/Dossiers1/Couronne3.html
Grassroots Haiti Solidarity Committee
PO Box 748 Village Station, New York, NY 10014
718-284-0889 * info [at] grassrootshaiti.org