Supplies of Coca-Cola are under threat after workers voted for strike action at one of the world’s largest bottling and distribution centres, says the UK’s biggest union.
Coca-Cola Enterprises faces the prospect of a series of 24-hour strikes after 82 per cent of workers voted in favour of action at the Wakefield plant in a row over pay, Unite said.
The action could have a ‘devastating effect on supplies’ of soft drinks, affecting shops, supermarkets, vending machines, pubs and hotels across the UK.
The Wakefield operation, which produces 200 million cans of Coke a week, employs 517 staff, including manufacturing and distribution technicians and local delivery drivers.
Strike action could affect supplies of Coca-Cola, Oasis, Dr Pepper and various other Coca-Cola brands.
Unite regional officer Kelvin Mawer said: ‘This time it’s the real thing.
‘Shops, supermarkets, pubs and hotels now face the prospect of shortages of Coke during the height of the summer.’
He said the union was continuing to negotiate with management to resolve the dispute and avoid industrial action.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola Enterprises said: ‘We have been in constant dialogue with our employees and representatives throughout the negotiation process, with the aim of reaching a solution through discussion.
‘We are therefore disappointed that our employees have chosen to move towards industrial action.
‘It is premature to speculate on the outcome of this development, however we remain confident that through continued dialogue, we can reach a settlement that continues to give our employees competitive pay, whilst at the same time protecting the future vitality of our business for the collective benefit of the company and the long term future of our employees.
‘Our customers can be reassured that, in the event of any industrial action, we have robust contingency plans in place and our priority will be ensuring they have the supplies they need.’
The Wakefield manufacturing plant produces up to 6,000 cans and 1,650 bottles of soft drink every minute, working around the clock.
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