Three-week Coca Cola dispute goes to Labour Court


BOTH SIDES in the dispute at Coca-Cola HBC Ireland, where workers have been on strike for three weeks, are to go to the Labour Court today.

The court’s ruling will be binding on the union Siptu, which is bringing the case under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969. A spokesman for the company said it would be attending the Labour Court today.

About 130 workers have been on strike over plans to outsource jobs in its warehousing and distribution centres. Yesterday, about 50 strikers staged a protest at the headquarters of Coca-Cola Ireland in Dublin.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola HBC said Coca-Cola Ireland was a separate entity. However, Siptu branch organiser John Dunne said Coca-Cola Ireland was part of the Coca-Cola company which owned 23 per cent of Coca-Cola HBC.

Mr Dunne said the union wanted to discuss at the Labour Court the company’s plans and to determine whether there were any alternatives. “We also know there will be redundancies, and we are willing to do an agreement with the company on that.”

Paddy Cahill, a former worker director at the company who is now chairing a support group for the strikers, said yesterday: “I am now witnessing the sundering of all industrial relations procedures and change partnership structures by the present management of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland. The dismissal of over 120 Siptu members on Monday, September 7th, while they are on strike is a new low in Irish industrial relations by a company that once prided itself on good staff relations.”

In a statement Coca-Cola Ireland said: “Coca-Cola Ireland appreciates that this is a difficult time for those affected by the changes being made within Coca-Cola HBC Ireland, which bottles our products under licence. However, the current industrial action is by Siptu members who are employees of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland, an independent and separate business to Coca-Cola Ireland.”