Soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Corp is facing strike action by trade unions over its plan to cut 130 jobs in Ireland.

Ireland's Siptu trade union has warned that workers are set to strike, after talks between it and Coca-Cola Hellenic executives broke down last week.

The Greece-based soft drinks bottler, which employs around 1,150 people across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, announced plans to cut jobs following publication of a strategic review in June.
Around 130 posts are set to be either cut or outsourced to contractors across its distribution and warehouse facilities.

Both the company and union leaders blamed each other for the collapse of talks to avoid strike action, which were held at the Labour Relations Commission.

"Unfortunately union representatives disengaged from the process before meaningful discussion could commence and have since issued the company with strike notice," a spokesperson for the bottler said today (24 August).

Strike action "will not affect business continuity", the firm said, but added that it "would like to resume engagement with the union".

Siptu national industrial secretary Gerry McCormack said Coca-Cola Hellenic has breached an agreement to discuss more alternatives. "Having agreed initially to attend the LRC and recognise Siptu's position on a number of issues, Coca Cola HBC has now stated that it is only willing to talk about transferring our member's jobs to third party operators and redundancies," he said.

"It is the first time our members have engaged in strike action since the company began trading in Ireland over fifty years ago."

Coca-Cola Hellenic, which trades in Ireland as Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland, insisted the cuts are necessary for future viability.

"To facilitate a smooth transition for everyone we have offered our employees a significant package of six weeks per year of service up to EUR125,000 (US$179,000) or the option to transfer to the third party logistic providers selected," said company MD Gokhan Bilgic.

Coca-Cola Hellenic reported a 4% drop in net profits in the first half of 2009.