Photo via Telam

The factory Pepsico shut down last month looked like a battlefield today morning when law enforcement violently removed the laid off employees who had taken over the building in protest, demanding the company reopen the plant.

The two groups clashed this morning when the former workers refused to clear the premises. As a result, police arrested several workers and injured others during the operation. At the time of writing this article, a group of workers is still resisting efforts to remove them from the roof of the building.

Photo via Telam
Photo via Telam

“Well resist here on the roof, and if something happens to us, [President Mauricio] Macri, [Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia] Vidal and judge [Andrea Rodríguez Mentasty in charge of the case concerning the shutdown] are to be held accountable,” warned union delegate Camilo Mones. Leaders of left-leaning political parties and union representatives made their way to the plant to show their support to the laid-off workers’ demands. PTS leaders Nicolás Del Caño and Cristian Castillo and Myriam Bregman are among them.

On June 20, Pepsico shut down its plant that operated in the Florida neighborhood of the BA Province district of Vicente López. In a press release, company representatives attempted to explain why they made the “difficult decision to shut down the plant” that left more than 500 people without a job.

“The reasons for the aforementioned closure include the plant’s location in a residential neighborhood, and the impossibility to modernize it or remodel it to make it bigger; the fact that it’s economically nonviable due to its high costs; and the logistical difficulties to access the plant,” the release added. The company has informed [the press] that its decision is final and that it has never considered reopening the plant.

The release went on to inform that the company’s authorities contacted each one of the 536 people that have been impacted by the shutdown. “Each and one of them has been invited to meet [company representatives] personally while their salaries and benefits continue to be paid until July,” it added.

691 people worked in the plant. The 155 who did office work were relocated to Mar del Plata, where the company will move its operations. However, the rest didn’t share the same fate because the company decided to hire people living in the area to perform the work the laid off workers had performed in the Vincente López.

According to La Nación, 450 of these workers accepted the company’s severance package — a sum of money equivalent to their salaries until April next year and medical coverage during the same period of time. The estimated hundred employees who didn’t take the package decided to protest, the last act being the occupation of the plant.

Correction: a previous version of this article said that Myriam Bregman was a representative of the Partido Obrero (PO). She’s a representative of the PTS. We apologize for the mistake.