Workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Edmonton, north London, staged their third round of two six-hour walkouts last week—and were set to walk out again on the same schedule this week.
The pickets blasted songs like “Union Through and Through” and “Part of the Union” through a megaphone towards the plant, blew whistles and waved Unite union flags.
Some strikers’ friends and family joined the picket line, and other workers driving past them on the industrial estate honked their horns in support.
The workers are demanding a pay rise equal to inflation, but bosses are offering 2 percent and are refusing to negotiate.
“There’s been stonewalling from the management, but there have also been hints that some of them are getting quite worried about production,” a senior steward told Socialist Worker.
“We’ll be having meetings with members to decide how we’re going to proceed.
“Certainly it will be an escalation from what we’ve been doing.
“Members have said overwhelmingly that they don’t accept the company’s offer. So we’re confident we’ll get the backing for another form of action after this—it’s just a question of what that might be.”
Strikers from one shift held an informal meeting with their rep on the picket line last Thursday, to pool ideas for the way forward.
“We need to get out for a whole day,” said one worker. “We need to hit them hard.”
Others suggested publicity stunts, such as mass leafleting in Leicester Square.
Such public campaigning would of course be a step forward—but the key question remains escalation.
“On 18 October the plant moves onto its ‘peak’ shifts for Christmas production,” another worker told Socialist Worker.
“Christmas production has historically been four to six weeks of intense production.”
Longer walkouts, scheduled to hit as production starts to step up, would put the company under huge pressure.
The workers suggesting escalation are not alone—many other strikers, including reps, support the idea.
The most confident and militant must organise to win the argument with the whole workforce.
And the Edmonton workers should also demand that the union nationally pushes the issue of solidarity in Coca-Cola’s biggest plant in Wakefield.
Delegations and visitors are welcomed to the picket line, and you can send messages of support to email@example.com