Over 180 members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed by Suntory Beverage & Food in Coleford, Gloucestershire, will begin a week of strike action on Monday (5) after management failed to address the cost-of-living crisis.
Workers received a two year pay deal effective from April 1 2022, with a commitment from the employer to review the second year’s increase, should inflation exceed five per cent between January to June 2023.
The inflation rate far exceeded this but the one-billion-pound Suntory Beverage & Food, which produces household name drinks including Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Ribena, has not met expectations in relation to this commitment.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said, “Suntory is awash with cash and it is reprehensible that it is has failed to give our members a fair pay increase.
“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. The workers at Suntory have Unite’s complete support.”
As a result of the lack of loyalty to the deal, workers will take part in strikes for the first time at The Royal Forest Factory since the 1970s. This could swiftly lead to shortages of Lucozade and Ribena and result in empty supermarket shelves.
Unite regional officer, Michael Hobbs, added: “The strike action will inevitably result in shortages of consumers favourite drinks, but Suntory has brought this strike on its self due to it unreasonable actions.
“Our members have been pushed to their limit because of the continuous disrespect shown by Suntory and its inability to address the current impact of the cost-of-living crisis on its workers.”
Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I supply chain director Karl Ottomar, “We are in active discussions with our trade union and our employee representatives to secure a fair and positive outcome for everyone.
“Our current remuneration package makes us a very competitive employer in the region. The employees taking part have received two pay increases in addition to a one-off additional payment since 2022 in recognition of their work and to support with the cost-of-living crisis.
“We have also invested heavily in the modernisation of our historic Coleford site, including a £13m bottling line in 2020. To support our trade customers, we have business continuity plans to ensure minimal disruption through this period. During this week, the factory will remain open with production lines still producing drinks for customers nationwide.