Socialist Worker

Coca-Cola workers’ pay strike has bosses in a fizz

Issue No. 2062

Workers at Coca-Cola plants in Wakefield and Milton Keynes took strike action over pay on Thursday and Friday of last week.

Strikers based at the site in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, are members of the Unite union, while those in Milton Keynes belong to the GMB union.

Workers are furious that management only offered to improve their 2.5 percent offer if the workers sacrificed overtime rates and bonuses.

The strike saw over 100 workers on the picket lines in Wakefield, where a delegation of 20 striking post workers was warmly welcomed.

Unite regional officer Davy Hall said, “While Coca-Cola makes significant profits, we are not prepared to see our members’ wages cut. Their mortgages and bills have all increased but their pay has fallen flat.”

Kelvin Mawer from Unite said, “Some of the lads leave here near exhaustion at the end of a shift. When they do get overtime, they want it at time and a half. The 2.5 percent pay offer is derisory.”

Wakefield senior shop steward Steve Tattersall said, “People feel as if their standard of living has been eroded because this is the third year in a row we have had a basic pay rise of just 2.5 percent.

“We work a 12 hour continental shift system, which is difficult when you have a young family.”

Darren, who works as a technical operative and earns around £19,000 a year, said, “We are low paid workers and don’t even get overtime, so this offer is disappointing.”

The Wakefield plant, which produces 200 million cans of Coke a week, employs 517 workers. The Milton Keynes plant has 140 workers.

Coca-Cola has recently engaged the employment agency Right Direction UK specifically to recruit Polish workers to do “quality checking” work at £7 an hour.

This is significantly below the £12.13 pay rate for equivalent full time workers organised by Unite.

Agency workers are also to miss out on a 38 percent shift allowance.

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Article information

Tue 31 Jul 2007, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2062
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