Coca-Cola vows to begin outsourcing

IN spite of strikes at a number of its distribution centres yesterday, Coca-Cola has vowed to press ahead with outsourcing or laying off 130 staff on September 8.

Pickets were mounted yesterday on distribution centres in Dublin, Tuam, Waterford, Tipperary and Cork, as workers protested at the company’s plans.

Coca-Cola yesterday said it was willing to sit down and discuss how the implementation of the plan would take place at that point, but said it would not entertain any discussions on alternatives to the outsourcing/redundancy agenda.

SIPTU which represents the staff has obtained letters to its members from third party transport companies to whom those members would be outsourced telling them their terms and conditions would be inferior in some regards to what they currently enjoy with Coca-Cola. It points out that is in breach of Transfer of Undertakings legislation.

However, the senior management at the soft drinks manufacturer say staff are being offered a competitive redundancy package. If they accept they can still apply for work to the third party transport companies though they would have to accept whatever terms and conditions were on offer. If, however, staff forego the redundancy package they can expect to be transferred to the other company on the same conditions they currently enjoy with Coca-Cola.

“The redundancy package being offered by the company is six weeks per year of service up to €125,000 or the option to transfer to third party logistic providers selected,” said Gokhan Bilgic, managing director, CCBHC Ireland. “Despite union claims, the company can assure that all actions taken by the company or the third parties are fully compliant with the TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking) regulations. This situation is undoubtedly difficult for those affected, however, the decision to outsource is crucial to ensure the future viability of the business. We would strongly urge the union to resume talks in order to reach mutual agreement on the redundancy package and the transition.”

SIPTU said it was more than willing to attend talks with the company at the Labour Relations Commission and to lift pickets on the company’s warehouse and distribution depots, but only if Mr Bilgic lifted his precondition on talks that the union accept the 130 members’ jobs were gone.”

“Unlike Mr Bilgic we are available for immediate talks on all the issues in dispute without preconditions”, said Gerry McCormack of SIPTU.

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