Workers blockade Coca-Cola bottling plant

15,000 ex-employees are involved in the pickets.

220 protestors began a picket of Coca-Cola's Caracas bottling centre on Monday, refusing to move until they recieve social security payments.

The ex-employees of the Mexican-run bottling plant endured a heavy downpour throughout Tuesday night. After sheltering under sheets of plastic and cardboard boxes, they remained firm on their picket line. Coca-Cola have confirmed that output at all four of it's Venezuelan bottling plants has been halted by the action. Admistrative offices have also been picketed.

The ex-workers are demanding a total payout of 5 billion Bolivars (£1,220,800) to be split between 15,000 former workers, but Coca-Cola are refusing, saying they will only settle with 65 ex-workers, and are seeking legal support.

The pickets have blocked lorries from transporting Coca-Cola from the plants, and shortages of Coca-Cola have now been reported across the country. The secretary general from the bottler's union (representing current employees) has vowed to mobilise his members to break the strike and return to work, saying "If some parliamentarians do not show up to guarantee our position, then we will go to our workplaces across the country, breaking whatever kind of illegal blockade is going on".

Carlos Romero, a spokesperson from the picket has said "We will not step back until they say they are going to pay. We have the support of the revolutionary government and will not retreat."

Romero also said that despite the secretary general of the bottler's union planning to break the strike, current employees at the plants are in support of the ex-worker's picket.

Nixon Lopez, another worker's leader, has linked the dispute with a wider agenda to nationalise production in Venezuela, "This blockade is just the prelude to Coca-Cola being nationalised and turned over to the Venezuelan state. We're showing the world that no multi-national company can just come here to humiliate Venezuelan employees".