On Thursday morning, PepsiCo workers and their supporters were repressed by the police in Buenos Aires. Three weeks ago workers voted to occupy the factory in the defense of their jobs, despite the union refusing to support their actions.
The comisión interna (shop-floor committee) is led by militants of the Trotskyist PTS, along with anti-bureaucratic and combative independents. For almost a decade, they have steadily built rank-and-file power and operated democratically in the factory. Holding frequent assemblies and accustomed to confronting their employers, the workers at PepsiCo were no strangers to struggle.
In the past, they participated in solidarity actions with other factory workers, including the push for the state expropriation of MadyGraf graphics factory (formerly Donnelly’s). On March 8, they organized a work stoppage for International Women’s Day, discussing the need to organize against femicide and for women’s rights.
The occupying workers gained community support through actions around the city to bring attention to their struggle, winning the various sectors of workers, academics, artists and politicians. They also received international support from workers in Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, the United States and more.
On Thursday, when the police brutally repressed PepsiCo workers, there were plenty of cameras there. The eviction of the workers was livestreamed. It was viewed by 265,000 people and shared 7,300 times. The mainstream media was also there, bringing the images of PepsiCo workers beaten and bloody to television screens across Argentina. The reaction was immediate: a train line organized a solidarity strike. The Madres of the Plaza de Mayo called for a protest in downtown Buenos Aires and the news began to trickle to the international media.
El Pais, a famous Spanish newspaper ran a long story, full of images and an interview with workers.
On Friday, the struggle was on the front page of newspapers across Argentina.
The fact that this workers struggle has gained national and now some international attention is due to the immense efforts of the PepsiCo workers and their supporters. These workers show that a workers struggle can capture the attention of a nation and even the attention of some international media.