Workers at PepsiCo Argentina defend their rights militantly

Demonstration in Buenos Aires in support of Pepsico workersWomen workers at PepsiCo in Argentina have been organizing militant protests against retrenchment, long hours of work in harsh working conditions. The protests began in June this year. They arrived at work June 20 to find a note on the door saying that the plant would be relocated and that workers were out of a job.

Women workers at PepsiCo in Argentina have been organizing militant protests against retrenchment, long hours of work in harsh working conditions. The protests began in June this year. They arrived at work June 20 to find a note on the door saying that the plant would be relocated and that workers were out of a job.

Demonstration in Buenos Aires in support of Pepsico workers

PepsiCo workers being suported by labour unions, students and womens groups in Buenos Aires

In Argentina, in order to close a factory, a company needs to file a “Crisis Prevention Procedure,” which demonstrates three years of economic distress and that steps were taken to try to save the workers’ jobs. PepsiCo filed a Crisis Prevention Procedure after it had already shut the factory, which is illegal. The multinational grew by 17 percent in comparison to the same months last year and in Latin America, grew by 5 percent. Last year, the company saw growth of 26.3 percent in its sales volume in Argentina, bringing in $4.8 billion.

The workers decided to fight this anti-labour practice. The shop-floor committee called for a workers’ assembly. There, workers voted to occupy the factory in defense of their jobs. The occupation included a camp outside the factory, where workers and supporters sat around the fire on cold Argentine winter nights.

On June 7 an order of eviction came through, which workers promptly appealed in court. They organized mobilizations in the streets and received hundreds of statements of support, but the courts upheld the decision to evict.

On July 13, hundreds of police in full riot gear arrived at the workers’ camp to confront PepsiCo workers, students, and workers from other industries chanting “General Strike” and “Unity of the Working Class.”  The police entered the factory knocking down the doors, hit the workers viciously, fired tear gas and finally broke a gas pipe to force the workers to leave.

Just two hours after the eviction, the National Labor Court of Appeals ruled that PepsiCo had violated the law by firing the workers—and the court ordered their reinstatement.

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