EUROPE – Europe could be faced with a shortage of Coca-Cola products from June 8 as workers at the company’s facility in Wakefield, the largest soft drinks plant in the continent, have voted to stage a strike by a high majority percentage of 87%.
The stoppage in production at the Wakefield plant, which can produce 360,000 cans and 132,000 bottles of drink per hour, could surely impact the supply of brands like Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, and Monster across Europe.
The Unite union in the UK indicated a two-week walkout could begin on June 8 after the recent proposal from Coca-Cola European Partners for an average raise of 6% was rejected.
Unite is the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland with members across the private, public, and voluntary sectors, including manufacturing, public services, transport, food, finance, and construction.
Unite Union added the pay to the workers was insufficient at a time when inflation measured by the retail prices index is still in double digits.
Britain’s stubbornly high inflation rate fell by less than expected last month and a closely watched measure of core price rises surged to a 31-year high, according to official data earlier this week.
Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson said: “Coca-Cola’s pay offer has fallen flat. Most of the workforce has joined the Unite to fight for fair pay.
“Now a series of strikes will inevitably shut down the production of Britain’s favorite soft drinks, including Coca-Cola. But industrial action can still be avoided at Europe’s biggest soft drinks plant if bosses realize that they must pay workers a fair wage from the company’s enormous profits.”
However, a spokesperson for CCEP said the bottler’s pay offer was very competitive and noted frontline staff was given a £1K bonus last year to help with rising costs.
“We remain fully committed to maintaining talks with our colleagues at our Wakefield site and their representatives to secure a constructive outcome,” noted the spokesperson.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham added that offering workers real terms pay cuts when business is booming is nothing short of corporate greed. The workforce is rightly furious at the company’s profiteering.
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners generated revenues of more than €17.2 billion (£15bn) and an operating profit of €2.1 billion (£1.8bn) last year.