SIPTU seeks all-out picket of Coca-Cola as dispute intensifies

SIPTU has sought permission from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for an all-out picket of Coca-Cola’s operations across the country over the ongoing seven-week dispute between the company and former workers.

The union’s president Jack O’Connor has also sought the intervention of the National Implementation Body over the company’s decision to outsource or make redundant 130 of its distribution staff.

Yesterday, the company claimed SIPTU had rejected a “very substantial” redundancy package for the affected staff, with an average of €90,000 per person. It said the maximum pay-out offered was €180,000.

However, SIPTU divisional organiser Gerry McCormack described the company’s claim of that offering as nonsense.

“The facts are that there is no redundancy offer. They took it off the table and told our members they would only be getting statutory redundancy when they were sacked on the picket line on September 8,” he said.

“Even if the company was willing to pay out the terms originally on offer only a handful of people would get the top figure mentioned because of long service. The majority of workers would receive between €10,000 and €45,000.”

Mr McCormack said the dispute was not about money.

“It never was. It is about jobs. When Coca-Cola HBC announced on June 4 that it intended to outsource the jobs of 130 SIPTU members at its warehousing and distribution centres... in Dublin, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and... Galway, we immediately sought to engage them in discussions on an alternative plan to protect direct employment... When the company proposed a redundancy package which fell far short of the one previously agreed with SIPTU, the union referred all of the issues to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) on July 8. Unfortunately the company said it would not discuss any issues at the LRC other than redundancy payments and outsourcing. Not surprisingly, our members voted in favour of strike action after the company ploughed ahead regardless and it began on August 27.

“Far from being willing to engage with us, the company broke its own internal industrial relations procedures in provoking the strike and, while management representatives attended the Labour Court, they refused to engage meaningfully with the court or accept its recommendations to settle the dispute,” said Mr McCormack.

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