More than 2,000 workers at Coca Cola plants across Britain were set to ballot from this Friday for strikes over attacks on their pay and pensions.
The workers at 12 sites face a rise of five years in their retirement age.
“Workers will now be forced to work to 65 instead of 60 unless they are willing to accept a loss of up to a quarter of their pension,” said Andy Costello, GMB officer for members in Coca Cola.
“The next step is to move to a formal ballot, as employees have already voted by 96 percent in a consultative ballot to take strike action.”
The union is demanding national bargaining rights, which Coca Cola management is refusing.
The ballot, which was announced at the GMB’s annual conference, will be coordinated with the Unite union.
It will start on the first day of the World Cup, 11 June, which Coca Cola sponsors.
The unions hope to begin the industrial action in July, before the end of the tournament.
The union points out that Coca Cola broke through the £1 billion sales barrier in Britain this year, so it is hardly poor.
The 12 sites are in Wakefield, East Kilbride, Northampton, Sidcup, Milton Keynes, Edmonton, Enfield, Bristol, Southampton, Exeter, Uxbridge and Hammersmith in west London.