Strike action threatened at Coca-Cola Wakefield

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Unite members at CCEP Wakefield have threatened strike action in response to a pay dispute
Unite members at CCEP Wakefield have threatened strike action in response to a pay dispute

Related tags Drinks

Unite the Union members at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) Wakefield have threatened to strike after claims of bullying by bosses and disputes over pay.

The union claimed bosses were attempting to force through a below inflation pay deal, a 21-month deal of 3.25% for the first 12 months and 1.75% for the following nine months.

CCEP’s offer would mean a ‘real-terms’ pay cut of 6.7%, based on the current RPI rate of 11.7%.

It also claimed that CCEP was threatening staff with further reductions to the pay offer and potential changes to ‘ways of working’ should workers elect to take industrial action.

Clerical workers at CCEP Wakefield are now preparing to stage an industrial action ballot after unanimously rejecting the company’s pay offer.

‘Scandalous behaviour’

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.

“Workers at the plant are rightly furious over CCEP management’s behaviour. They are joining Unite in numbers and the workers are determined to get fair treatment.”

These workers included microbiologists and lab analysts responsible for testing and safety, gatehouse operatives and operations planners. Unite claimed supplies from the site would grind to a halt should a strike be organised.

“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,” ​Graham added. “Our members can be assured that they have Unite’s total support in this fight.”

CCEP response

A spokesman for CCEP said the company was disappointed the pay offer was not accepted, as it believed the total package was competitive within the marketplace.

“We will maintain an ongoing dialogue with our employees’ representatives and are ready to continue pay talks to reach a solution,” ​the spokesman added. “The current negotiations are with a small number of colleagues who are responsible for clerical and administrative tasks at one of CCEP’s sites in Great Britain.

“Therefore, whilst we hope that a resolution can be found, we are preparing contingency measures and are confident that there will be no disruption to our trade customers.”

CCEP Wakefield produces more than 100m cases of drinks a year, over 50% of the UK’s supplies and more than twice that of any other UK site. In 2021 the company made £1.54bn in profit and had revenues of £11.8bn.

Unite branch secretary Chris Rawlinson concluded: “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.”

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