IRELAND: Coca-Cola Hellenic workers' strike imminent
Workers upset at planned redundancies in Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company's Ireland business plan to strike this week.
Members of Ireland's Siptu trade union plan to picket company depots in Tuam, Cork, Dublin, Waterford and Tipperary from 08h00 tomorrow (27 August).
Industrial action follows Siptu complaints that Coca-Cola Hellenic has refused to listen to alternatives to its plan to cut up to 130 jobs across its Ireland distribution and warehouse facilities.
Jobs not cut will be transferred to private contractors, following a strategic review by the Greece-based soft drinks bottler, which employs 1,150 people across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Talks to avoid strikes broke down last week, with each side blaming the other.
According to Siptu, three private companies have since contacted workers "offering them new employment at greatly disimproved pay and working conditions and containing threats of redundancy".
Pickets will remain in place until the bottler agrees to return to negotiations, either via the Labour Relations Commission or Labour Court "to resolve matters and reach an acceptable agreement", Siptu said.
Coca-Cola Hellenic said strike action "will not affect business continuity", but added that it "would like to resume engagement with the union".
The company's MD in Ireland, Gokhan Bilgic, insisted the cuts were 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," he said.
Coca-Cola Hellenic reported a 4% drop in net profits in the first half of 2009.
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