With Jaime Acevedo

Collective bargaining at Cervecería Nacional ends successfully

With a strike only hours away at the brewery company Cervecería Nacional (AB InBev), and against a backdrop of social protests that have been shaking Panama for the past month, the unions reached positive agreements with management.

Giorgio Trucchi

02 | 08 | 2022

Jaime Acevedo | Foto: Fuclat

Both Sticp and Sitrafcorebgascelis1, the two unions representing Cervecería Nacional workers, had been vocal against the outsourcing trend in this company owned by the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), and the danger of increasing employment instability that the trend posed.

Negotiations were difficult and we were on the verge of going on strike. Stopping the advance of outsourcing and recovering jobs was crucial to us,” Sticp General Secretary Jaime Acevedo told La Rel.

“Once we secured agreements on this item, we were able to move forward and successfully conclude the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement, which will be in force for the next four years,” he explained.

A blow to outsourcing

Among the agreements that made it possible to solve what was proving to be a very complicated situation are the hiring of truck assistants on a permanent basis to cover all the posts that had been outsourced and the incorporation of additional trucks, which will allow for the hiring of some 80 permanent workers.

Moreover, the number of small outsourced vehicles used for product distribution will be reduced dramatically and replaced with company-owned vehicles driven by permanent personnel. These will be given priority over the rest.

In addition, it was agreed that outsourced workers would be hired for limited periods and only to cover any surge in product demand.

Economic improvements

During the last week, negotiations were focused on the economic clauses. The workers obtained a 4.6 percent increase for 2022 (retroactive to July 1), with additional increases each year, toward reaching a total of 5 percent in 2025.

Other gains include the reintroduction of the sales commission for performance that the company had eliminated years ago and a 20 percent improvement for the productivity bonus, as well as increases in other incentives in the distribution area.

“The situation in the country is very complicated and there is a major economic and social crisis. Bearing that in mind, we believe that we achieved a positive result and we are quite satisfied. We will be convening an assembly to report on the negotiations and hand out copies of the new collective bargaining agreement,” Acevedo explained.

The general secretary of Sticp took the opportunity to thank Rel UITA (IUF Latin America) and Raúl Álvarez and Pablo Quiroga of Felatrac (the Latin American Federation of Coca-Cola Workers), as well as the other beverage industry unions affiliated to our international federation, for their support and solidarity.

“Solidarity among workers is essential. Our struggle needed this international support and we are deeply grateful,” he concluded.

1 Union of Brewery Industry Workers of Panama (STICP)
Industrial Union of Workers in the Production and Sale of Soft Drinks, Beverages, Sodas, Beer, Liquor, and Related Products (Sitrafcorebgascelis)