Strike action threatened at Coca-Cola plant

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Unite has threatened strike action at CCEP Wakefield
Unite has threatened strike action at CCEP Wakefield

Related tags Drinks

Unite the Union has threatened strike action at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ (CCEP’s) factory in Wakefield, reportedly the largest soft drinks plant in Europe.

Workers at the site are voting on industrial action after the union refused a pay offer from the drinks manufacturer it claimed didn’t pay a fair wage that matched inflation.

According to Unite, its members were offered an average 6% increase across different grade amounts, below the current rate of inflation – currently 13.5%.

‘Proper pay rise’

“Coca Cola Europacific Partners is making profits in the billions so it can easily afford to give its workers a proper pay rise. It’s profits are up 37% to an eye watering £1.85bn but bosses refuse to pay workers a decent wage increase which keeps up with rising prices," ​claimed Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

CCEP Wakefield is able to produce 360,000 cans per hour, and 132,000 bottles per hour. The union warned that a potential strike could lead to shortages of Coca-Cola branded drinks across the UK.

‘Hurt supplies’

“A strike will inevitably put supplies of Britain’s favourite soft drinks, including Coca-Cola, at risk this summer,”​ said Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson said. “But Industrial action can be avoided at Europe’s biggest soft drinks plant if bosses agree to pay workers a fair wage.”

A spokesman for CCEP said the manufacturer was committed to maintaining talks with workers at the Wakefield site and their representatives.

"In the current economic climate, we believe the pay rises that we are offering are very competitive within the marketplace,"​ said the spokeman. "We also provide substantial additional benefits and bonuses to our colleagues, altogether this is an average total package of £46,900 for a colleague at Wakefield.

We have also made a £1,000 payment to all frontline colleagues in the past twelve months to support the current cost of living challenges. We have a strong track record of supporting colleagues at our Wakefield site, allowing them to build their skills and develop their careers in a hi-tech, modern manufacturing operation, where we have invested more than £100m in the past five years alone.

Hope for a resolution

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

In other pay dispute related news, Unite members at Edrington Distillers accepted a 12% pay rise over the course of the year to end a dispute over new shift patterns and unsociable hours.

This pay rise will see workers based at the Drumchapel site receive a boost to their annual income from £2,450 up to £4,900. About 40 Unite members – including engineers, electricians and boilermen – are set to receive a backdated 3% rise in January with a further 9% to come in April.

Related topics People & Skills Drinks

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