Photo via Zona Norte Vision

The roughly 500 workers of the Pepsico factory in the district of Vicente López went to work like every day today, only to find out a sign on the entrance notifying them that the factory was closing and that they are no longer needed by the company.

“Due to the cease in operations of the Florida plant and the consequent re-localization of its operations to another establishment, and while it fulfills its due legal obligations before the Labor Ministry, all staff is notified that it’s temporarily released from paying services, keeping their salaries. The company will be contacting you to provide further information,” read the message, which also provided a phone number for those who wanted to contact the company.

At the time this article is being written, regardless of the message outside the factory, workers are demanding further explanation from company authorities. Although they were not formally fired, the workers were kept outside by the police.

In a radio interview, a company representative explained that the enterprise has taken this measure due to the increasing costs of the Vicente López’s branch, which led to financial losses. Pepsico, which has been in the country for 58 years now, reaffirmed its commitment to Argentina by expanding their operations in their factories in the cities of Mar del Plata and Munro.

He went on to say that moving the production to those plants will decrease the costs of production and make the labor easier and more efficient. It was also announced that 155 of the 691 people that worked in the factory were going to be kept by the company to be employed in the other two plants.

This event comes a week after the Indec statistics agency published a report revealing that the country’s unemployment rate clocked in at around 12 percent in the first quarter of the year. Union leaders claimed that the company’s decision was approved by Labor Minister Jorge Triaca, and accused Pepsico’s representatives of pressuring

Union members also accused the company of putting pressure on them by “offering them high severance packages to get them to resign, in order to weaken the workers’ organizations within the company, which achieved different conquests throughout its years of fighting.” Nonetheless, they assured they are willing to meet with company representatives and authorities from the Labor Ministry in the next hours.

Company representatives, on its end, acknowledged this was an “unfortunate decision for all involved,” but “reaffirmed its commitment to Argentina” and assured that “this change will allow the company move forward on its transformation process, adapting to the consumers’ requirements.” However, this will not be of any consolation to the roughly 400 to 500 people who are unemployed as of today.