Coca-Cola staff protest against restructuring plan

Trade union members working at seven Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) sites in the UK are today demonstrating against the company’s European-wide restructuring, which they claim is being pushed through without proper consultation.

Up to 120 well-paid UK jobs and more than 400 in Europe as a whole are at risk as part of the restructuring plan, with only lower-salaried roles available to replace them, according to the Unite union.

Earlier this month, CCE declared that the dividend rate for shareholders would increase by more than 30% from December 2010. It came after the company announced a net profit of $110 million for the year to April 2010 and said it expected growth to continue throughout this year.

Jennie Formby, Unite national officer for food and drink, said: “While the boardroom rewards shareholders, it is callously cutting the jobs of the workers who help make Coke its massive profits.

“Unite is demanding that Coke thinks again. As a very minimum there must be a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, permanent pay protection for all displaced workers and Coke must start to engage fully in meaningful consultation about making sure our members don’t pay the price for changes that will further benefit this phenomenally profitable company.”

Unite members at CCE sites in Edmonton, Sidcup, East Kilbride, Bristol, Northampton, Milton Keyes and Wakefield will protest against the restructuring in a series of demonstrations throughout today.

In a statement, CCE said: “CCE is proposing to make changes at our manufacturing and distribution sites in Great Britain; these changes target a single, consistent way of working across all our plants in Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, so that we can remain competitive and grow our business for the future.

“No decisions have yet been made, and we are now in consultation with employee representatives. If implemented, the changes would impact seven sites in Great Britain.

“The proposed changes could result in up to an estimated 120 roles being at risk of redundancy in Great Britain, however, 130 new roles and other development opportunities would also be created.

“We are committed to meaningful consultation throughout this process and will seek to manage and mitigate the impact on our people wherever possible.”

The demonstrations follow a series of strikes at the Edmonton plant in a dispute over the company’s 2% pay offer. Further action has been suspended as more talks beckon.

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