Workers at Coca-Cola Enterprise’s (CCE’s) largest bottling and distribution centre based in Wakefield were due to start a second 48 hour strike today, but this has been suspended because the company has agreed to reopen negotiations.
However, the Unite union was clear that the dispute has not yet been resolved. Unite was furious that management was asking the workers to pay for salary increases by sacrificing parts of their overtime rates and bonuses to improve the original offer to raise wages by 2.5%. CCE has enjoyed significant profits and a rise in stock market value.
Unite regional secretary, Davy Hall said: “Given that CCE make significant profits, we are not prepared to see our members’ wages cut. Their hard work has delivered the profits for CCE. Their mortgages, gas bills and council tax have all increased but their pay has fallen flat.”
Meanwhile, Scottish & Newcastle workers at its Berkshire brewery, who last week voted to strike over a pay dispute, have agreed to go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service with company representatives. “We’re proposing to members that we’ll suspend the implementation of industrial action,” said a Unite spokesman. “The talks are on the basis of a clean sheet.”
The Berkshire brewery operates round the clock, seven days a week and workers practise continental shift patterns producing Fosters, Kronenbourg and Budweiser for the domestic and export markets. With no storage capacity at the site any industrial action would cause major problems quite quickly, warned Unite.