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.