just the facts - Industrial action in the drinks industry
Here are five cases of industrial unrest hitting the drinks sector.
1. New Zealand - The Greymouth Beer Boycott of 1947
In Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand in 1947, a consumer boycott began over the increased price of beer. What started as consumer outrage developed into trade union action. Support was raised for a boycott of hotels that put the price up - dubbed the 'sevenpenny pubs'. Due to a lack of unity, however, the Licensed Victuallers' Association eventually allowed publicans to choose whether they sold beer for 6d or 7d. By February, all hotels in Greymouth had reverted back to 6d. It appeared to be a victory for the working men of Greymouth, at least in the short-term.
In 2002, around 250 employees of Carlsberg's Norwegian operation Ringes went on strike over a wage dispute. In 2004, the industrial action came to the UK when around 180 workers planned to walk out from 1 December for 16 days in a dispute over pay. The workers voted in favour of industrial action, which threatened to affect supplies of lager in the run up to Christmas.
Similarly, in 2004 Heineken was affected by industrial action at its Zoeterwoude brewery in the Netherlands. Production was halted due to trade union action in Rotterdam, which saw around 150 Zoeterwoude-based Heineken employees depart for the city to take part in the union-organised protests.
3. Coca-Cola Co's workers dispute
In April 2008, Coca-Cola Co's plant in Dunkirk, France, saw a major industrial dispute over wage demand and bonuses. Efforts to resolve the dispute were ineffective and picket lines were set up, blocking trucks delivering to the site. Meanwhile, two Coca-Cola Enterprise (CCE) plants in Paris were also hit by strike action over wage demands, as was a plant at Pennes-Mirabeau, near Marseilles.
4. Australia - The Hardy Wines workers strikes of 2006
In 2006 two strikes hit Hardy Wine sites in Australia. Although the industrial actions only lasted a day each, the effect on the company itself was considerable not only in the delays caused but also in the agreements eventually reached. The strikes occurred over a breakdown in talks on pay and conditions. The strikes and negotiations spanned nearly a month yet resulted in an agreed deal by 20 February 2006. Strikers at the Berri Estates winery initially put demands in for "18% increases over a two-year period". This was deemed "ludicrous" by managing director David Woods, but the company's eventual offer of an annual wage hike of 3.5% for three years was accepted by three quarters of employees.
Diageo has experienced a number of industrial actions over the past few years. In January 2007 Diageo faced industrial action by 98% of workers at its Crown Royal distillery in Canada. The strike over contract demands was averted, although details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Earlier this month, striking electricians in Ireland forced the firm to immediately suspend Guinness production at St James's Gate brewery in Ireland, after they chose the Dublin brewery as one of the sites they would picket. Diageo responded by securing a last-minute High Court injunction against the picketers in order to restart operations and salvage stocks at the brewery.
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