Warning over soft drinks supply as Coca-Cola workers to strike over pay

26 May 2023 by
Warning over soft drinks supply as Coca-Cola workers to strike over pay

Supplies of brands including Coca-Cola and Fanta could be hit this summer after workers at Europe's biggest soft drinks plant voted to go on strike, a trade union has warned.

Hundreds of staff at Coca-Cola Europacific Partner's (CCEP) factory in Wakefield will walk out for 14 days between 8 June and 22 June.

Union Unite said 87% of workers balloted had voted in favour of the strike in protest over a 6% pay rise because it was below inflation.

Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson said the industrial action would "inevitably" shut down production of soft drinks.

However, a CCEP spokesperson said it was putting "robust" measures in place to protect supplies and was "confident" there would be no disruption for trade customers.

They added that the average total package for a worker at Wakefield was £46,900 and staff had been given a £1,000 payment in the last year amid cost of living pressures.

The Wakefield plant's products include Diet Coke, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Monster and Schweppes tonics. It can produce 360,000 cans and 132,000 bottles per hour.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said CCEP's workers were "rightly furious" over the pay offer.

"Coca Cola Europacific Partners is making profits in the billions but it's delivering a pay cut to the very workers who are making them," she added.

"Offering workers a real terms pay cut when business is booming is nothing short of corporate greed."

A CCEP spokesperson said: "In the current economic climate, we believe the pay rises that we are offering are very competitive within the market place.

"Our competitive rewards package includes our share save scheme and an opportunity to purchase additional days holiday. Almost 80% of our Wakefield colleagues invest in that scheme and benefit from our ongoing success as a business and 75% purchase additional holidays.

"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.

"While Unite has chosen to proceed with industrial action, we remain fully committed to maintaining talks with our colleagues at our Wakefield site and their representatives to secure a constructive outcome."

Image: Andre Silva Pinto / Shutterstock

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