Pepsi Bottling Plant Workers Protest in Fuzhou

20:35 Nov 14 2011 Fuzhou

[Note: this action is coded as resulting in a "change of company policy" because of the owner's pledge to not change the package offered employees for at least two years---presumably such a promise would not have come about without the strike]

From Global Times:

PepsiCo China staff are concerned the management may not fulfill its promise to keep the company system unchanged for two years and employees might be laid off in a covert way, after the beverage company's tie up with Tingyi Holding Corp, a group protesting against the alliance told the Global TImes Monday.

Employees at PepsiCo China's bottling plants in Fuzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu and Nanchang protested Monday against the strategic alliance between PepsiCo Inc and Tingyi Holding Corp, the Economic Observer reported Monday.

Production at many plants was seriously affected by the protest, with all employees at Chongqing's Pepsi Tianfu Beverage Company halting work, although they stressed "this isn't a strike and we're standing up for our rights," according to the report.

According to an agreement between Taiwan food giant Tingyi and PepsiCo on November 4, Tingyi will partner with PepsiCo's bottlers to manufacture, distribute and sell PepsiCo's carbonated drinks and Gatorade in China. PepsiCo China will take a 9.5 percent stake in Tingyi.

The deal is subject to approval by the Chinese government and Tingyi shareholders.

"Nobody was told about the alliance beforehand and no staff relocation measures have been announced yet," the protest group, based in Fuzhou, said in a message sent to the Global Times Monday through Weibo.

"We protest for a counter-takeover, or in the hope that people who want to quit can get compensation and those who stay won't be elbowed out," the group said.

All PepsiCo Fuzhou staff would keep protesting in the next two days, it said.

PepsiCo's China chairman Tim Minges wrote in an e-mail to staff Sunday said the compensation package for PepsiCo's employees would remain at the current level, Guangzhou Daily reported Monday.

He said the two companies have promised not to change current contracts and contract terms of any employee within two years after the alliance gets an approval.

Wei Ing-Chou, chairman and CEO of Tingyi Holding Corp, also promised last Thursday to "maintain separate operation, pay equal attention to the two teams, and keep the current PepsiCo system and employee welfare unchanged in the next two years," according to Guangzhou Daily.

Neither company responded to requests for comments Monday.

"The two companies operate differently, so it's hard to keep the two teams totally unchanged if Tingyi wants to maintain normal operation," Yan Qiang, a food industry analyst and partner at Beijing-based Adfaith Management Consulting Inc, told the Global Times Monday.

From CLB:

Several thousand workers in at least five Chinese cities have staged a coordinated protest against the takeover of PepsiCo’s bottling plants in the mainland by Taiwanese food and beverage conglomerate Tingyi Holdings.

Workers in Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanchang, Fuzhou and Changsha all took their annual leave on 14 November in a coordinated campaign to protect their jobs and demand assurances that pay, benefits and working conditions will not be eroded as a result of the takeover.

At least 1,100 of the 1,300 workers at the Fuzhou plant reportedly joined the initial protest, with similar numbers in the other cities. The workers at the five core plants then launched an online campaign to bring in the more than 20,000 workers from all 24 Pepsi bottling plants on the mainland.

The workers are demanding that PepsiCo either halt the merger or compensate them for pushing through the sale without consulting the workforce in advance. Different factories have specific demands but the protest leaders are hoping for talks with PepsiCo’s headquarters that can resolve the issues at all bottling plants.
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