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Ribena and Lucozade shortages ‘inevitable’ says Unite union as week-long factory strike begins





Almost 200 workers at a factory making Lucozade and Ribena have gone on strike.

Union Unite says the action will ‘inevitably’ lead to shortages of the popular drinks and may result in empty supermarket shelves.

Unite says shortages and empty shelves may occur as a result of the week-long strike. Image: iStock.
Unite says shortages and empty shelves may occur as a result of the week-long strike. Image: iStock.

More than 180 union members, employed by Suntory Beverage & Food, have launched a week of industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The factory in Coleford, Gloucestershire produces household name drinks including Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Ribena.

Unite says the walkout, which began on Monday (February 5), is because the company had failed to respond to the cost of living crisis.

The firm says its pay and benefits package makes it a ‘very competitive employer’.

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.”

Ribena is among the household names made at the factory where workers are on strike. Image: Stock photo.
Ribena is among the household names made at the factory where workers are on strike. Image: Stock photo.

The Lucozade and Ribena brands were sold by GlaxoSmithKline to Japanese firm Suntory in 2013.

Workers were given a two-year pay deal effective from April 1, 2022, claims Unite, with a commitment from the employer to review the second year’s increase, should inflation exceed 5% between January to June 2023.

But union officials say the firm has not responded to the changing inflation rate, which did exceed the agreed rate.

General secretary, Sharon Graham, added: 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.”

Karl Ottomar, Supply Chain Director at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I says the company has contingency plans to ensure ‘minimal disruption’ over the next week.

He said: “In 2022 we gave employees a pay increase and a one-off additional payment in recognition of their work and to support with the cost-of-living crisis. For the current pay negotiation we are offering a 5.25% pay increase to these employees.

“To support our 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.

“SBF GB&I remains committed to supporting all our employees, suppliers and customers, working with fairness and consistency.”



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