Coca Cola supplies under threat

Strikes over bullying and pay cuts could hit Coca Cola supplies this summer

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Supplies of Coca Cola are under threat this summer because bosses are attempting to force through a below inflation pay deal. The workers are furious about an abysmal pay deal alongside management threats and bullying.

In 2021, Coca Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) made £1.6 billion in profit and had revenues worth £12.7 billion.
However, CCEP is offering the workers an abysmal 21-month pay deal of 3.25 per cent for the first 12 months, and 1.75 per cent for the next 9 months. That would mean a real-terms pay cut of 6.7 per cent, based on the current RPI rate of 11.7 per cent.

To make matters worse, CCEP is threatening staff with further reductions to the pay offer, and threatening potential changes to “ways of working” should they take industrial action. The threats have swollen union density at the site.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This scandalous behaviour is tainting one of the world’s biggest brands. This Coca-Cola bottling plant is trying to bully and threaten our members into taking a pay cut while making money hand over fist.”

The clerical workers employed in Wakefield, the largest CCEP plant and the biggest soft drinks plant in Europe, are now preparing to stage an industrial action ballot. The workers have unanimously rejected the company’s latest pay offer and subsequent threats.

Sharon Graham said, “Workers at the plant are rightly furious over CCEP management’s behavior. They are joining Unite in numbers and the workers are determined to get fair treatment.

“CCEP needs to think again and fast because these workers have the power to grind production of Coca-Cola to a halt unless they get a better deal. Our members can be assured that they have Unite’s total support in this fight.”

The workers include microbiologists and lab analysts responsible for testing and safety, gatehouse operatives who ensure HGVs can enter the site and operations planners who ensure that production runs smoothly. A strike by these workers could grind supplies of Coca Cola from Wakefield to a halt.

The site in Wakefield produces over 100 million cases a year, over 50 per cent of the UK’s supplies and more than twice that of any other UK site. This year, workers at Wakefield set a new record for volume output in a single week, shipping 3,335,097 cases.

Unite’s Chris Rawlinson added, “Coca Cola Europacific Partners can easily afford to offer workers a fair pay increase but have resorted to heavy-handed tactics. If management continue to make threats and refuse to budge on pay then Unite will ballot its members for strike action. Our membership is growing and the workforce is prepared for action.”

By Ciaran Naidoo

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