Coke staff strike over bottled up frustration
Coca Cola employees across Germany walked off the job on Monday to kick off a series of warning strikes which will hit more than 50 company premises across the country over the next days in a conflict over wages and working times.
On Monday morning workers stopped work for several hours at Coca Cola premises in Traunreut and Memmingen in Bavaria and in Gomaringen near Tübingen in south west Germany, with further action planned at more than 50 locations in the next days.
Striking workers are demanding a wage rise of six percent over the next year in the face of Coca Cola's threatened job cuts and the introduction of flexible working hours which will include obligatory weekend shifts.
The strikes have been called by the Beverages and Catering Industry Trade Union (NGG), which disputes the threatened staff reductions and points to the drinks giant's good overall financial performance in the past year.
"The NGG is demanding wages and salaries are raised by six percent this year. The management wants - despite good business performance - to make working times more flexible and is even threatening staff reductions," said the union in a statement.
Female employees are particularly in danger of being laid off at the Gomaringen plant where workers went on strike on Monday, NGG head Karin Brugger told Tagblatt regional daily.
Coca Cola employs 10,600 workers in Germany in over 50 premises, all of which are threatening to participate in the warning strikes.
The NGG and Coca Cola are due to enter their third round of negotiations at the end of January, with media reports suggesting the company could offer staggered wage rises of two percent in the first year and two and a half percent in the second year - along with pensions raise and training grants.
However, the union is not satisfied with the offer, demanding higher and faster wage rises and an end to suggestions of flexible working times and staff cuts.
"There has to be a significant shift from the employer's side otherwise they'll be in for a very hot spring," Karin Brugger told the paper. The warning strikes suggest NGG is planning to raise the pressure step by step.
"Employees have gone without a wage rise for years," she added. "So the staff have already contributed their bit to the good company performance."