Around 1,000 workers at Coca-Cola Femsas production plant have been striking in demand of salary increases

Around 1,000 workers at Coca-Cola Femsa's production plant have been striking in demand of salary increases

Coca-Cola FEMSA has accused trade unions of demanding salaries for workers that would jeopardise its business in Venezuela, as a strike continues at the bottler's major plant in the country.

Around 1,000 workers at the Coca-Cola FEMSA plant in Valencia have been on strike since last week over pay and contract terms. The move has threatened to cause shortages of Coca-Cola drinks in Venezuela.

Coca-Cola FEMSA operates four plants and around 30 distribution centres in the South American country. However, the Valencia plant constitutes around 50% of the company's soft drink volumes there, the firm told just-drinks today (20 January).

A spokesperson for Mexico-based Coca-Cola FEMSA said that it began salary increase negotiations with the labour union in July last year. At the time, the company claimed, the union requested a 210% increase on 2009 salaries.

Negotiations continued into January, at which point, a strike was called. Femsa said it is “relying on local regulations to reach an agreement with the labour union”.

The spokesperson told just-drinks that the union's “out of proportion” salary expectations would, if met, "jeopardise our business’ viability in the country”.

He said of the dispute: “Operating efficiency levels at this facility have been declining over the past months due to this problem."

The spokesperson said talks are taking place with union representatives.

“Our subsidiary in Venezuela is offering a compensation such that represents an increase above local year-over-year inflation and such that it is aligned with what has been negotiated by the rest of the companies that operate in Venezuela,” he told just-drinks.

“We are putting a lot of effort, together with the government representatives, to reach an agreement soon,” the spokesperson said. “It is very important for our consumers and other related businesses to see a solution in this matter," he said.