Coca-Cola workers in 24-hour strike

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The Independent Online

Workers who transport cans of Coca-Cola across the country are to stage a 24-hour strike next week in a row over pay, it was announced today.

Members of Unite at distribution centres will walk out on August 4, which the union warned could "significantly" hit supplies.

The 200 workers voted by almost four to one to reject a two-year pay deal worth 2.3% each year.

National officer Jennie Formby said: "The union is frustrated that the company has refused to engage meaningfully in negotiations to give the distribution staff a fair pay rise.

"The offer of 2.3%, which amounts to less then half of RPI inflation, has angered the workforce, as this is a vastly profitable multi-national company which is refusing to listen to its employees and acknowledge their contribution to the success of the organisation.

"Unite made it very clear that the union is willing to consider any proposals to add value to the offer, but Coke have made it clear they will not budge, even if concessions are made.

"The ballot for industrial action was conducted after Unite and its workplace representatives exhausted every possible option to reach a fair settlement through negotiation. Unite members clearly feel they have been left with no option now but to take strike action."

Coca-Cola Enterprises has distribution centres in Bristol, East Kilbride, Edmonton, Enfield, Exeter, Northampton and Sidcup.

A Coca-Cola Enterprises spokesman said: "Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd (CCE) has ongoing pay negotiations with only around 230 employees (5% of our GB-based employees), who have driving or warehouse roles across some of our GB distribution depots.

"CCE is very disappointed that this group of employees has now voted in favour of industrial action. CCE has offered this group a two year pay deal which gives them annual pay increases of 2.3% in year one and 2.3% in year two.

"This offer takes into account a number of factors including market rates and a long term responsible approach. We believe that this pay offer is fair in the current climate.

"Over the last four years pay increases for this group have totalled 12%. These pay increases are set against inflation over that period of 12.5%. The average salary for this group is around £30,000 a year.

"CCE wants to find a constructive outcome to these ongoing pay negotiations. Industrial action will not achieve this, so CCE intends to continue dialogue with these employees and with the unions.

"CCE will activate plans to ensure that any industrial action minimises disruption to the high quality of service we always aim to deliver for our customers.

"These plans include collaboration with our customers to ensure continuity of supply through the important summer period."