RUSSIA: Heineken counters strike claims
Heineken is being made out to be the victim of "manipulation of public opinion" at one of its breweries in Russia.
The global brewer has been hit by a supposed strike at its facility in St Petersburg in the last few days. Trade union leader Valery Sokolov has appeared in the Russian media claiming that workers at the brewery have downed tools over demands for extra pay and a bonus scheme. Sokolov has claimed that the site saw production halve over the last weekend.
But, speaking to just-drinks today (17 April), a spokesperson for Heineken Russia said the claims do not reflect the actual goings-on at the site.
"The union issued its demands on 6 April," the spokesperson said. "Under the Russian labour code, we have one month in which to issue our decision. The trade union felt for some reason that the company should reply straight away.
"They have never used the word 'strike' when communicating with us. This manipulation of public opinion does not reflect events in the brewery."
The spokesperson conceded, however, that some warehouse operations staff had employed a 'work-to-rule' approach - known as an 'Italian strike' in Russia - on Friday and Saturday, but noted that the plant was running as usual by Sunday.
"It's not true that the strike is going on now," the spokesperson continued. "Without a reply from us, Mr Sokolov has prompted this external dialogue."
Sokolov's union is calling for a 30% wage increase as well as a bonus scheme review and extra pay for any jobs operating in hazardous conditions.
The Heineken brewery in St. Petersburg employs around 1,200 people.
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