China - Workers - including a pregnant woman - beaten up by police officers during simultaneous strike at three different Coca-Cola factories

Simultaneous industrial action took place in three different Chinese cities - Chongqing, Chengdu and Jilin - hosting three different Coca-Cola factories. In an unprecedented coordinated action in Chinese activism, employees of the Coca-Cola Company in China demonstrated against the multinational giant’s willingness to sell off its bottling operations in the country. In mid-November 2016, the company announced its plan to divest its bottling stakes in China between Swire Beverage Holdings Ltd. and China Foods Ltd., part of the state-owned COFCO.

Worried that COFCO would cut staff after it took over, workers called for a general coordinated strike on 21 November 2016. Temporary personnel hired by police entered the Chongqing factory area, turned off all the lights and started beating and abducting protesters - including a pregnant woman - citing the need to maintain public order as justification. A bloody conflict ensued as unofficial police personnel broke down doors of washrooms that workers were using as shelters to hide themselves.

A Coca-Cola mid-level manager in China said that the company had not responded to the demands of staff, causing the legitimate intensification of tension. On the workers’ side clear efforts were made to meet management half way. In an effort to try to legitimise a co-negotiated process of buy-out, employees tried to involve the All-China Federation of Trade Unions – the only union recognised by the Chinese government – despite the state-sponsored union’s lack of expertise in advocating for workers’ rights. Management did not address this proposal for joint negotiations, suppressing all collective actions with violence instead.

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