The slow meltdown of EFE


mini-carrito-de-helados-efe-para-fiestas-infantiles_MLV-O-34640645_2868Founded in 1926, EFE is the oldest ice cream maker in Venezuela. It is now on serious danger of going bankrupt.

The company (owned by Empresas Polar since 1987) has seen its production drop by 57% in the last five years. Strong labor absenteeism (five times higher than the national average) is blamed for the problems, something the “socialist” workers’ union denies.

In recent years, EFE has struggled with a prolonged internal conflict. The Chavista-aligned union has accused Polar of not negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and has even denounced an assassination attempt against its leader Abraham Rivas last year. EFE believes that the entire incident was a hoax to discredit the company.

Some of the street vendors have left, going to its main competitor Tio Rico, which has not been affected by any labor disputes. Maybe that is because it is owned by multi-national Unilever since the nineties, and depends mostly on imports, instead of producing locally like EFE.

But EFE is not the only Venezuelan ice cream maker with problems. The Chavernment launched its own Coppelia brand months ago but things have not gone well.

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    • They do if there is no independent oversight, just as businesses do. In Venezuela, there is no independent oversight (administrative, judicial, etc.). The mafias that finance ’em collude with the mafias that build ’em. And if there’s a problem, it gets settled in the street.

  1. What a shame, such a great uniquely tasting Venezuelan product. Seems to me that this is a renewed attack on the Polar group as a whole. One thing is for sure: if there is no more or a shortage of beer, Chavismo is history!

  2. My sister-in-law has a small tequeno factory and she has trouble filling orders because of employee absence. Doesn’t seem to be able to incentivize employees enough to show up.

  3. Chavistas seem to have fallen into the opposite trap of Libertarians. Libertarians believe that businesses when unfettered by government regulation will offer the lowest prices and best products in a responsible manner. In reality, some regulation is necessary for numerous reasons.

    Chavistas lie on the opposite end of the spectrum, believing that businesses are the root of all evil but individual workers will be free from avarice or the selfish motivations which drive businesses to monopolize markets and damage the environment. Efe clearly shows workers will do exactly the same thing Chavistas accuse businesses of if they can get away with it.

  4. Am all in to scream for my rights as a worker but this is well beyond commie madness. Unions should not be stopping the production of any company on a whim, because the productions is what pays the salary, and I’d rather not to have any union at all than provoking the downturn of the company where I work.

    • The workers at EFE might be betting on a takeover by the government, which in their minds would mean salary increases and less work.

      • That could be a few of them, you know the lazy commie’s ass kisser, believer of the fairy and unicorns… but for the decent workers, well nobody in their right mind would even dream about it.

        No after what happened in almost all the companies now in the hands of the government, where they are next to bankruptcy.

      • And then it’s oil money for daddy. Until it all folds up and they find themselves on the street and without an ice cream cart, mind you, like many of their moronic peers who did that before.

      • You are right- unions operate on a democratic, majoritarian principle, in accordance with their constitutions. So if your union leaders are making bad decisions, you have only yourself and your fellow workers to blame. As I see it, however, the problem with trade unions in Venezuela, particularly in the construction industry, is that corruption and lack of oversight has displaced democratic, majoritarian principles. Legal mechanisms in place to safeguard those principles are not enforced and are manipulated for political ends, independent unions and their collective agreements are not recognized by labour tribunals, and the overall result is poor internal governance, non-compliance with constitutions and collective agreements, unnecessary work stoppages, and violence. Sound familiar?

      • Tell that to Hostess.

        A minority union there elected to strike and brought the company down with it. No more Twinkies…which for gringos is the same as no Harina PAN.

        In theory, a union and the management should mutually offset each other with the government acting as an unbiased arbiter of the outcomes. This doesn’t work when not only are the union and the government ideologically aligned, but more or less allied thereby negating an unbiased opinion.

        Stacked decks are perfectly acceptable if it favors the unions, but when the business calls it a day and closes the doors because it is no longer in their interest to maintain an ongoing enterprise everyone loses.

      • And of course, yoyo, there’s no connection whatsoever between the company being able to make a profit and the workers getting paid.

        So far as unions being unable to call a strike if the workers don’t want to strike, ho ho ho. That may be true in countries where ‘union leaders’ don’t carry guns and settle differences with bullets. And where union heavies don’t show up at the homes of workers who don’t want to strike and threaten them with ‘consequences’. And where unrepresentative cliques, with the backing of the inspectoria de trabajo and the labour ministry, don’t hijack unions for their own purposes, extorting money out of companies in exchange for not halting production.

        If that’s really what you believe, you obviously don’t have much idea how government-backed unions work in Venezuela (especially in the construction industry, btw).

      • Question for yoyo:

        If you were at work, doing your job, and a fellow worker pulled a knife on you to convince you to vote a certain way, and the incident were captured on video, with full audio, in living color, with all faces easily indentifiable, and the Ministerio de Trabajo dictated to the company that it could not fire the knife wielding worker, how would you feel?


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