Trade union news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 9 September, 2010 - 10:56

Coca-Cola will face the second major industrial dispute with its UK workforce in less than six months as workers at its Edmonton bottling plant in north London prepare for strike action following an 81% yes vote in an industrial ballot.

Union density at the plant is high, with 113 of 150 workers in the Unite union. The dispute follows a 2% pay offer from management, which union reps have described as “derisory”. Speaking in the Daily Telegraph, Unite’s Wayne King said “Coca-Cola is in no way suffering during the recession yet it wants to force its workers, in one of the world’s most expensive cities, to accept a poverty pay deal. Further, the company has failed to meaningfully negotiate throughout the pay process. Small wonder then that the overwhelming majority of our members have voted for industrial action. Unless Coca-Cola responds with an improved offer, then a strike seems inevitable.”

A strike in June, involving workers at 12 Coca-Cola sites across the UK, was averted only after bosses agreed to further national negotiations on changes to terms and conditions.

BBC strike vote against pensions cut

BECTU, NUJ and Unite members at the BBC have voted by more than 90% for strike action to protect their pensions.

In June, management announced plans to cap pensions at 1% growth per year (if salary rose at 3% it would mean pensions growing more slowly — in short, a cut). The BBC says there is a shortfall in the pension fund of £1.5-2 billion, but it enjoyed a 13-year pension holiday to 2008 which is estimated to have saved it £1 billion.

Staff were made angrier when they found out the generosity of senior managers’ pension arrangements: for example, the director general Mark Thompson had £163,000 pension top-up in 2009 alone. BBC management have been surprised by the level of staff anger, and have begun a consultation which will run till the end of September. The massive vote for strike action should make them rethink their plans.

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