US unions have again launched public protests at plans by Coca-Cola Enterprises to lay off "hundreds" of workers when the Coca-Cola Co. bottler opens a distribution depot in California later this month.

On Saturday (10 February), members of the Teamster union leafleted spectators at the Powerade Drag Racing Series in Ponoma, California. The union said it was protesting CCE's plans to prevent existing workers at plants in San Diego and Los Angeles to move to Oceanside.

The action followed similar protests in San Diego last month against CCE's plans to cut over 100 jobs from its operations in southern California.

"Coke wants to gut good-paying, middle class, union jobs in Southern California," said Jim Santangelo, a Teamsters vice president. "Coke has forced our members to re-apply for jobs at the Oceanside plant, even when they have been performing the same work previously, sometimes for years. Coke claims it's the 'real thing'. But not when it comes to loyalty and fairness."

Officials at CCE could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.

Reports in the US have claimed that the total number of jobs under threat at CCE is around the "four-digit range". The company could make an announcement tomorrow (13 February) when it publishes its financial results for 2006.