Court backs Coca Cola settlement in Spain jobs row

A man drinking Coke or Coca Cola.
A man drinking Coke or Coca Cola.PHOTO: STREATS

MADRID (AFP) - A Spanish court on Friday (Oct 9) ruled that Coca Cola does not have to give workers from a shut-down factory their bottling jobs back as long as it maintains their pay and conditions.

Workers who were laid off when the US drinks giant shut down several bottling plants in Spain had sued to get their original jobs back.

Earlier court rulings had forced the company to cancel 1,000 layoffs and reinstate more than 200 workers who had already been dismissed. The plan to shut the plants sparked a strike for months last year.

Eighty-five employees returned to work last month at a new logistics centre on the site of one of the old bottling plants, in the Fuenlabrada district of southern Madrid.

In the case of another 130 workers, the court had to rule whether they could be appointed to new posts in the logistics centre or whether the company had to give them back their old bottling jobs despite the firm's plans to wind down those operations.

The National Court in Madrid in a written ruling on Friday upheld Coca Cola's decision to keep the Fuenlabrada plant running as a logistics centre.

It said the Fuenlabrada workers had obtained all the "possible" concessions from Coca Cola in keeping their "jobs, salaries and hours", the court said in a statement summing up the ruling.

"Although their functions have been changed, the court considers that this has been done within the limits of ordinary practical mobility and is the most reasonable solution to settle this conflict."

Spain's economy is recovering from several years of recession but the unemployment rate is still extremely high at more than 22 per cent.