Strike action back on at Coca-Cola Edmonton as ACAS talks break down

By Ben Bouckley and Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Trade union, Cce

Strike action back on at Coca-Cola Edmonton as ACAS talks break down
Industrial action will go ahead at Coca-Cola’s Edmonton facility from next Wednesday, September 15, after discussions between trade union Unite and the firm broke down.

110 union members at the plant had been planning to strike this Wednesday in the first of a series of six-hour stoppages, after rejecting the soft drinks giant's recent offer of a 2% rise in basic pay as "stingy".

Both sides hoped that talks hosted by ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) yesterday would lead to a resolution, but they broke up last night, according to the union.

Wayne King, Unite regional officer, said: "CCE ​[Coca-Cola Enterprises] has unfortunately failed to come to these talks in good faith. Despite the opportunity for progress presented by the Acas talks, CCE offered exactly the same as before - that is, a real terms pay cut.

"The only way to settle this dispute is for CCE to move beyond its intransigent position and negotiate honourably with Unite. Unite remains available for further talks, but unless CCE improves its offer next week's planned industrial action will go ahead."

Immense profitability

King had been upbeat ahead of talks with the firm yesterday, saying: “Unite is pleased that management are prepared to have a rethink on this dispute.

“We hope that this will now lead to meaningful discussions and a fairer deal for our members, one which both reflects our members' contribution to the immense profitability of Coca-Cola Enterprises and the punishing rise in the cost of living.”

Members were looking at something "more akin to the real cost of living"​, not least because Edmonton was a particularly successful plant in the Coca-Cola empire, King told FoodManufacture.co.uk earlier this week.

Staff feel slighted

“Edmonton is historically a very high-performing plant and staff feel that their achievements are not being reflected through this pay offer," ​he said.

“We're obviously looking at the RPI (retail price index), which is much higher than 2%, and there is the fact that VAT is going up in January, which will also have a big impact."

In a recent ballot of union members at the plant, 82% voted in favour of strike action and 91% supported action short of a strike, claimed King.

Unite represents more than 110 members of the 150-strong workforce at the plant, which produces around 2m bottles every day.

Company response

Coca-Cola said it was very frustrated that agreement had not been reached.

"Talks at ACAS ended shortly after 18.30 yesterday when the team from Unite left, before agreement had been reached. This is especially disappointing with the CCE team available to continue negotiations, and believing that further dialogue offered the prospect of a constructive outcome.

"After investing in a full day of talks, we are very frustrated that progress did not prove possible at ACAS yesterday."

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